On March 12th France loosened some of the strict travel rules that had been in place since January.
Entry into France now depends on where you are coming from.
If you’re travelling from the EU there is no need to prove an ‘essential reason’ for your trip and travel for tourism purposes is allowed. Full rules HERE.
If you’re travelling from outside the EU in most cases you can only travel for essential reasons – full list HERE.
However seven non-EU countries have been exempted from the essential travel requirement. They are;
- South Korea
- New Zealand
- The United Kingdom
Travel from the exempt countries to France is now allowed for any reason, including family visits and tourism.
The Interior Ministry confirmed to The Local that: “In effect, following the modification of the decree on 12 March, it is no longer necessary to justify an essential reason to travel from the UK to France.”
Travel within France is currently not restricted and there are no rules about travel between regions.
Other country rules
However, before booking a trip you should check the rules in the country you are coming from, as many still have complete or partial travel bans in place, such as Australia.
The UK lockdown rules currently forbid all non-essential travel, including international travel. These are provisionally scheduled to be relaxed from May 17th, but this depends on the health situation. Full details HERE.
Your home country may also impose restrictions on people coming back, most country’s travel restrictions are based on the destination you are travelling from, so still apply to citizens of that country.
Testing and quarantine
Even if both your country of departure and arrival allow you to travel, it almost certainly won’t be as easy as it was pre-pandemic, as almost all countries require negative Covid tests for entry and many also impose quarantine.
Arrival in France requires a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours and the government specifies this must be a PCR test, not the rapid-result antigen tests or home testing kits. You also need to fill out a declaration of being symptom free at the border – find that HERE.
Once in France, visitors from outside the EU are asked to self-isolate for seven days, but this can be done at a location of your choice and there are no checks on this, it is an honour-based system.
Other countries are stricter, with the UK currently requiring a 10-day quarantine and the purchase of a compulsory £200 ‘travel test’ package, plus a negative Covid test at the border.
Tests in France are free for all purposes (including travel) for residents, while non-residents can expect to pay €38 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.
However testing costs in other countries can be considerably higher, in the UK tests for travel purposes are not available on the NHS so you will need to pay for a private one. Costs vary but they can be between £60 and £350.
Most countries only accept tests taken within the last 72 hours, so it’s likely you will need new tests for your return journey.
In short, testing could end up adding a significant amount to your holiday budget.
As countries around the world roll out their vaccine programmes, there is hope that fully-vaccinated people will get more freedom to travel.
The EU is looking at rolling out a ‘Green pass’ vaccine passport and France has also been trialling a digital pass on several Air France routes.
Details are quite sketchy at this stage, but it seems that both the EU and the French pass will be digital (probably an app) and will allow travellers to enter either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative Covid test.
It is hoped the EU pass will be in place by the summer, but this is not confirmed at this stage.
If there is one thing that we have learned this year it is that nothing is certain and both health situations and the rules around them can change rapidly.
There is no guarantee that international borders won’t be tightened again, or that countries won’t need to lock down again or impose extra restrictions. If that is the case, it is unlikely that travel insurance will cover the cost of a cancelled trip, so check carefully when you book the cancellation policy for accommodation and flights/trains/ferry crossings.
You can follow the latest on the French rules in our Travelling to France section.