‘Red, orange, green’: France prepares Covid traffic light system for travel

France will launch a 'traffic light' system determining the quarantine measures and other travel restrictions and the first 'green list' will be ready by June 9th, the foreign minister has confirmed. Here's what we know about how the system works.

'Red, orange, green': France prepares Covid traffic light system for travel
Travellers prepare their documents as they queue at the immigration desk of Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle international airport. Photo: Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

In effect, France already has a three-tier system of travel restrictions, with travel from certain countries banned in almost all circumstances, others allowed to travel with testing and quarantine and arrivals from within the EU allowed with no quarantine requirement.

However from June 9th, this will be formalised into a ‘traffic light’ system, with red, amber and green countries.

Announcing the idea, tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said: “We will be happy to welcome Europeans just as French people will be happy to visit Europe.

“Regarding countries that are outside the European area [EU and Schengen zone countries] we will work on lists and colours. There will be the green countries, orange countries and red countries.”

More detail has now been revealed about how these will work:

Red – travel will be banned from ‘red list’ countries in almost all circumstances, and even fully vaccinated people will be covered by this ban. Red list countries will be places where variants are causing concern, said foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. This sounds very similar to the rules already in place for 16 countries deemed high risk. Almost all travel from those countries – which include India and Brazil – is banned, and people who are allowed to travel face a strict 10-day quarantine enforced by visits from the police.

Amber – travel will be allowed for any reason, including tourism and family visits, but only people who can prove they have been fully vaccinated will be exempted from testing and quarantine requirements.

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ you must have received one of the four vaccines currently licensed for use in the EU – Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen) and it must be more than two weeks since your final dose of the vaccine.

Green – travel will be allowed for any reason with no requirement to quarantine, but travellers may have to present either proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter.


France plans – health situation permitting – to reopen its borders to visitors from outside the EU from June 9th and Le Drian said that the aim is to have the green list published by then.

Until then, it is important to note that if you are travelling to France the rules are the same whether you are vaccinated or not.

There is also a “principle of reciprocity” added Le Drian, so countries that refuse to recognise French vaccination certificates may not be added to the French ‘green list’ even if their health situation is good.

What about the UK?

Asked about the UK’s situation, Le Drian told French radio station LCI: “We hope that the control of variants can develop, but the arrival of the Indian variant in the United Kingdom poses a problem.”

Germany has put the UK back on its risk list due to the situation with the Indian variant.

Asked if this was likely to happen in France, Le Drian replied: “Perhaps not on the red list.”

The French government is also working together with the EU to set up a digital Covid-19 ‘health pass’ with vaccination certificates and test results that will become key for international travel within the bloc.

Member comments

  1. France is in the orange category at present. So, if it wants more tourists this Summer it should make things as easy as possible for other orange countries since it doesn’t want anyone from a red country and the green countries won’t come. Hope that’s clear.

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.