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HEALTH

LATEST: Who can travel to France from outside the EU?

Travel in and out of France from outside the EU remains limited, but the French government has relaxed some of the restrictions since the ban was imposed in January. Here's what the latest rules say.

LATEST: Who can travel to France from outside the EU?
Photo: AFP

On January 31st, in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a third lockdown, France closed its non-EU borders, however from March 12th there are exceptions in place for travel between certain countries

Non-EU

France’s borders are closed to anyone coming in from outside the EU or the Schengen zone.

The only exceptions to the travel ban are people with motif imperiéux (compelling/essential reasons) for travel.

The full list of reasons are;

Family reasons

  • The death of a parent, grandparent, child or sibling or visit to one of these family members who has received a terminal medical diagnosis (death certificate or doctor’s letter will be needed)
  • Childcare by a parent or guardian with custody or visitation rights (court letter and proof of address)
  • Providing vital assistance to a sick or disabled person (document establishing relationship)
  • Travel for legal or judicial reasons (letter or summons)
  • A legal or economic reason that makes it impossible to remain in the country you are travelling from eg the expiry of a residency card 
  • Travel for reasons of personal safety eg domestic violence or custody dispute (any documentation relating to the situation)
  • Returning to your main residence from a trip that began before January 31st (proof of residency eg carte de séjour, receipt of application for carte de séjour or proof of address, plus tickets showing your outward journey)
  • Students beginning or ending a period of study (documentation from the place of study)

Health reasons

  • Medical emergency (one person can accompany the sick person if necessary, doctor’s letter or hospital appointment card)

Work-related reasons

  • Vital work requiring an in-person presence where the work cannot be cancelled or postponed without disproportionate consequences (attestation from employer plus professional card if applicable)
  • Health professionals engaged in Covid-related work (professional ID)
  • Diplomatic or state work trips which cannot be cancelled or postponed (professional ID and/or letters from relevant ministers)
  • High-level sports professionals participating in fixtures approved by the sports minister (professional ID and documentation from the sports ministry)

March 12th

From March 12th, some extra exemptions have been added to this list. They are;

  • Couples who are married or in a civil partnership where one of the members is living abroad for professional reasons
  • Minor children attending school in France while the family home is established abroad
  • Couples with children, one living in France, the other abroad and separated.
  • Students taking a competitive examination
  • Returning to a main residence in France
 

These rules concern travel both in and out of France, so anyone wanting to leave France and travel to a non-EU country will also need a vital reason.

Exempt countries

From March 12th, seven non-EU countries have been granted an exemption, meaning that people can travel to or from these countries for any reason and do not need to prove that their trip is essential.

They are;

  • Australia
  • South Korea
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • The United Kingdom
  • Singapore

Paperwork

People who are either travelling from an exempt country or fit one of the reasons for compelling travel need a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours. They also need a permission form (attestation de déplacement et de voyage) stating their reason for travel, or a declaration that they have no Covid symptoms, depending on the country of origin. You can download the attestation or declaration HERE.

In short, travellers from most non-EU countries (apart from those seven exempted) need a test and the attestation but travellers from EU countries need a negative test and declaration saying they have no Covid symptoms.

Once in France, travellers from outside the EU are requested to self-isolate for 7 days at a location of their choice and then take a second test. This is a request and there are no checks on quarantine.

EU

Travel within the EU bloc and the Schengen zone is less restrictive, with no need to demonstrate a vital reason for travel – although both French and EU authorities ask people to keep travel to a minimum.

However, anyone arriving in France from an EU country will need a show a negative PCR test, taken within the last 72 hours and also a sworn statement that they do not have Covid symptoms (see above).

Find full details on the rules, as well as exempt categories, HERE.

Member comments

  1. I’ve read elsewhere that travel to and from certain countries such as Australia and New Zealand is exempt from the new restrictions. Is that true?

    1. Hi, I live in NZ. My mother is in France. Before these changes we were exempt and could arrive in Paris, but travelling around France between regions I was advised was incredibly hard. My understanding is that now I cannot enter the country.

  2. it doesn’t stipulate taking a second test after the seven days – it did in the previous rules; in fact i am due to take my test this week but now doesn’t seem to be neccessary (in any case it is all on honour nothing seemingly is logged)

  3. Is it really the case that the same rules apply to travel OUT of France, that is to say a British national can only return to the UK if she has one of the same ‘compelling reasons’ as coming TO France from the UK (of course, with the negative PCR test and all the requirements for entry to the UK)?

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For members

TRAVEL

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

Ever seen those drivers who avoid the queues at toll booths and driving straight through? Here's how they do it.

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

If you’re driving on French autoroutes one of the things you need to know is that they are not free – you will have to pay regular tolls, payable at toll booths known as péage.

Usually, drivers pick up a ticket from a booth at the start of their journey, then pay the required amount at a booth at the end of it – or when they move onto a different section of autoroute – based on the distance they have travelled.

But the toll booths themselves can be busy, especially during the summer, and long queues sometimes build up.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

This is where automated pay systems – known as télépéage – come in, especially for those who use the motorway network regularly.

As well as allowing you to pass straight through péages without stopping for payment, it’s also very useful for owners of right-hand drive vehicles, who may otherwise find that they’re sitting on the wrong side for easy and speedy payment.

Here’s how it works

Order your télépéage badge online

Click on the Bip&Go website here and follow the instructions to order a scannable personalised device (up to a maximum of two per account for private users). You will need to set up an account to arrange electronic payment of charges.

The website is available in English, French, German or Dutch.

You will need to supply bank details (IBAN number), address (for delivery), mobile phone number (to activate your account) and the vehicle’s registration details.

Your badge will be dispatched to your address within 48 hours from the opening of your online account. You can have the device sent to addresses outside France, but allow longer for it to arrive. 

If you’re in France, you can also pick up the device at one of Bip&Go’s stores, if you prefer – you will need need your bank details, proof of identity and a mobile phone.

Attach your badge 

Place your device on on the windscreen to the right of the rearview mirror. It is activated and ready to go. Then, simply, drive.

At the péage

All toll booths are equipped with the sensors that recognise that the vehicle is carrying the necessary device. At most, you will have to stop briefly for the device to be recognised and the barrier to lift.

You will also be able to drive through certain booth areas without stopping. These are indicated by an orange t symbol on the overhead signs. The maximum speed you can pass through these booths is 30kph.

Payments

Payments are processed automatically. You can monitor the amounts you have to pay on an app.

Do I need separate badges for motorway networks run by different companies?

No. The badge allows holders to travel on the entire French motorway network, no matter which company manages the motorway, and you can also use it to cross a number of toll structures in France such as the Millau Viaduct, the Tancarville Bridge or the Normandie Bridge, and pay to park in more than 450 car parks. 

Is it only valid in France?

No, with certain packages, you can also as easily travel on motorways in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and use a number of compatible car parks. You can even use them on Italian ferries.

Okay, but how much does it cost?

Subscriptions to the Bip&Go service depend on what type of service you want. A fixed price rolling subscription is €16 a year – plus toll charges – but assumes you’re a regular user of French motorways. 

A pay-as-you-go subscription is €1.70 for every month the badge is in use – plus toll charges – and carries a €10 additional fee if the badge is not used in a 12-month period.

How much are the toll charges?

They depend on the road you’re on, how far you travel along it, and the vehicle you’re driving.

Heading from Toulouse to Biarritz along the A64 will cost a total €23 in fees for a private car and if you’re driving all the way from Calais down to the Mediterranean coast expect to pay around €70 once you add up the various tolls along the way.

You can find out tariffs for autoroutes on the website of France’s official autoroute body AFSA – where you can also calculate the cost of your journey – including fuel.

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