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Reader question: Are there extensions to the 90-day rule due to French travel restrictions?

Reader question: Are there extensions to the 90-day rule due to French travel restrictions?
Travel to France has been heavily restricted for most of the year. Photo; AFP
Travel has been heavily restricted around most of the globe for the past year, so has this lead to any relaxation of the rules around length of stay?

Question: We are British and travelled to our second home in France the week before Christmas, when it was legal to do so. Since then travel restrictions have again been tightened and quite a few flights have been cancelled so we have holed up in our home in rural France. But now the 90-day rule is in force will we have to leave by mid-March or has the rule been waived because of the difficulties in travelling?

Many people’s travel plans have been thrown into disarray over the last year, for many that has made trips to France impossible, while others have ended up staying much longer than they planned.

But however topsy-turvy the world has become, there are still limits on how long certain groups can stay in the country.

For people who are not EU citizens – which from January 1st 2021 includes UK nationals – the 90-day rule comes into play.

You can find a full explanation of how it works HERE, but essentially it limits trips into the Schengen zone to 90 days out of every 180. People who want to stay longer than 90 days in every 180 must either get a visa or apply for residency.

So have these limits been waived during the Covid crisis?

The EU has issued some general advice on this, encouraging member states to grant visa extensions where necessary and to waive sanctions on people who have overstayed due to travel restrictions.

As ever, though, decisions on border issues remain with national governments within the EU.

France has within its travel restrictions exemptions which allow people to return home if necessary. 

Within the current rules for travel out of France to a non-EU country there are two possible exemptions for people who have travelled to their second homes in France;

  • Returning to your main residence from a trip that began before January 31st (documents required – proof of residency plus tickets showing your outward journey)
  • 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 

These cover people who are normally resident outside France returning home, or people leaving France for good due to the expiry of their permission to remain, such as a visa.

In order to travel you will need extra paperwork and, depending on your destination country, a negative Covid test. Find the full list of rules HERE.

If you have a question on any aspect of life in France, email us at [email protected] and we will do our best to answer it.


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