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Can families with unvaccinated children travel to France under traffic light system?

Can families with unvaccinated children travel to France under traffic light system?
Photo: Eric Cabanis/AFP
France is opening up its borders to vaccinated travellers - but what is the situation for families if the children haven't been vaccinated?

From Wednesday, June 9th, France introduced a traffic light system which allows travel for non-essential reasons – including holidays – from many countries outside the EU.

However there is a catch – only the fully vaccinated are allowed to travel to France for holidays or visits, so what does this mean for families with children?

The rules

You can find a full explanation of how the traffic light system works HERE, but the basic principle is that travellers from non-EU countries including the UK can travel to France for any reason as long as they are fully vaccinated.

Travellers from within the EU or other green list countries can travel for any reason, but unvaccinated people will still need to present Covid tests at the border.

MAP: Which countries has France put on its green list for travel 

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See also on The Local:

Those who are not vaccinated can only travel for ‘vital reasons’ from orange or red list countries – find the full list of accepted reasons HERE.

Almost all non-EU arrivals still need a negative Covid test on arrival for anyone over the age of 11.

What about kids?

Although some European countries like Germany and France have already begun vaccinating under 18s, many other countries have not yet opened up their Covid vaccine programme to children and teenagers, so for families wishing to travel together it is not possible for the children to fill the vaccination requirement.

So it depends on where you are travelling from, the age of your kids and the reason you are travelling.

From within the EU or green list countries

If you’re travelling from a green list country – which includes all EU or Schengen zone countries plus the USA, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand or Singapore – unvaccinated people can still travel provided they have a negative Covid test. 

MAP Which countries are on France’s green list?

France requires tests for all over 11s, so if your child is under 11 they need only a declaration, but if they are over 11 they need a declaration and a negative Covid test – either PCR or antigen – taken within the last 72 hours. 

From orange or red list countries

If you are a full-time resident in France heading home, a French citizen or an EU citizen who is a permanent resident in an EU country other than France then you are allowed to travel and this exemption also covers a spouse or registered partner travelling with you, as well as children.

Children over the age of 11 will need a Covid test – either a PCR test taken within 72 hours or an antigen test taken within 48 hours. 

If you’re not a resident and your journey isn’t covered by one of the ‘essential reasons’ for travel then you can can only enter France is you are fully vaccinated.

However the rules state that: “The vital reasons and quarantine measures applied to vaccinated adults are extended under the same conditions to accompanying minors, whether or not they are vaccinated.”

The public information website puts it a little more plainly: “Proof of vaccination is not necessary for travel by minors accompanying an adult or adults who have it.”

So as long as you fulfil one of the criteria for travel – whether that is fully-vaccinated or travelling for essential reasons – your children can accompany you.

If they are over the age of 11, however, they will need a Covid test – either a PCR test taken within 72 hours or an antigen test taken within 48 hours. 

If you fall into one of the categories who need to quarantine on arrival, your children will also have to quarantine with you. 


Member comments

  1. Can anyone elaborate on this or point me to more concrete information please.

    ‘So as long as you fulfil one of the criteria for travel – whether that is fully-vaccinated or travelling for essential reasons – your children can accompany you.’

    Don’t want to arrive at Dover and be turned away with an 11+ child, thank you.

    1. Hi – I actually thought the article was a very good summary but I’ll have a go at elaborating. Assuming from the user name and the departure point that you live in and are travelling from the UK and haven’t recently been anywhere else, that is currently an amber country from France’s perspective. That means

      – ALL the adults in the party must be fully vaccinated (for the vaccines used in the UK that means two weeks after second dose, or two weeks after first dose with proof the person has previously had Covid)
      – Under 18s can travel with the adults if the above is met for all adults, whether the child is vaccinated or not
      – Everyone (adults and children over 11) needs to do a PCR or lateral flow test in the UK 72 or 48 hours before arrival in France respectively (this cannot be a free NHS lateral flow self test, it must be a private test with a certificate of results)
      – Everyone needs to complete a French travel attestation form that they have no symptoms nor been exposed to infected people

      Your carrier will check all this before allowing you to board, so you will need evidence of all of these. The good news is that if you clear all these hurdles you do not need to quarantine in France any more.

      If any of the adults are not ‘fully vaccinated’ then the essential purposes rules apply, which is a very restrictive list that does not include friend and family visits, holidays etc and enforced quarantine if you do travel. Since your question implies a choice about whether to travel I would assume you would not qualify and you would be turned back if you tried.

      You then need to do the UK entry processes in reverse at the end of your trip. France is also an amber country currently from the view of the UK. Vaccines are irrelevant in this direction, you need to do pre travel, day 2 and day 8 tests with a UK passenger locator form and home quarantine for 10 days (with the option to do a shortened quarantine with Test to Release if your nasal passages and wallet can stand another beating after all that).

      Good luck! It’s complicated but possible, I’m just back from a visit via Eurotunnel and it does work.

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