How does the USA’s removal from the EU white list affect Americans wanting to travel to France?

How does the USA's removal from the EU white list affect Americans wanting to travel to France?
Photo: Ian Langsdon/AFP
The EU announced on Monday changes to its 'white list' of safe countries - so what does this mean for Americans wanting to travel to or from France?

The European Council announced on Monday that five countries and one territory have been removed from its recommended safe list of countries, citing concerns about case numbers as well as the issue of reciprocity.

** Since this article was written, the French government has made its own announced on travel from the USA – CLICK HERE for the latest.

The countries and territories that were removed as of August 30th were Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and the United States of America.

So what changes in France?

At present, nothing. The EU travel list is advisory and it is up to each member state to decide its own rules on borders.

At present the USA is on France’s green list, meaning that people can travel from the USA to France for any reason – including tourism – and need to show either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative Covid test at the border. Once in France, there is no need to quarantine.

EXPLAINED: How France’s traffic light travel system works

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Despite the EU recommendation, these rules will remain in place until the French government announces any changes.

Is France likely to follow the EU guidelines?

It’s not a given. Throughout the pandemic countries within the EU have all imposed their own rules on borders and entry and testing requirements, leading to a frequently confusing mass of different rules within the Bloc.

France opened up travel to fully vaccinated visitors from the USA in early July, ahead of the European Council moving America onto its white list.

The USA was then moved on France’s green list some weeks later, meaning that both vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers could come to France for any reason.

All countries within the EU are likely to be looking at the white list this week, but whether they decide to impose extra restrictions on travellers from the US will depend on a number of factors including the epidemic situation in each country, political concerns and the importance of American tourism to the economy.

We will of course be following this issue closely and will update our Travelling to France section if any announcements are made.

READ ALSO Revealed: How easy is it for tourists to access France’s health passport?

What will happen if France does change its rules?

Being removed from the EU’s white list does not mean a blanket ban on all travel from the USA – it concerns only non-vaccinated travellers who are travelling for non-essential reasons, such as holidays and family visits. EU citizens and permanent residents of EU countries, plus their families, are also exempt.

France operates its own traffic light system, and if it does decide to move the USA it is likely that it would go onto the orange list.

This regime is the same one that applies to arrivals from several other countries including the UK, and it differentiates between vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers.

Vaccinated travellers – can come to France for any reason and need only to show proof of vaccination at the border. Tests are not required and once in the country there is no need to quarantine.

Non-vaccinated travellers – can only travel to France for essential reasons and must present a negative Covid test at the border. Once in the country a 7-day quarantine is requested, however this can be done at home and is not enforced by police. You can find the full list of essential reasons for travel HERE, but it does not include family visits or holidays.

What about Americans who live in France?

The ‘essential reasons’ travel list includes people who are French citizens or permanent residents of France, so Americans living in France can travel to the US to see family and return to France, although they will need to show proof of residency (either a visa or carte de séjour) at the border.

People who are not vaccinated will need a negative test and should quarantine on arrival.

What about travel to the USA from France?

This is part of the problem for the European Council – entry requirements to the USA from Europe are currently much stricter than the other way round and reciprocity is one of the factors that was taken into account for the white list.

At present the USA allows only essential travel from the EU, or travel by US citizens or residents, and makes no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.

Americans living in France – who are US citizens – can travel back to see friends and family but Europeans can only travel to the US for essential reasons.

This has lead to a lopsided summer in which Americans can holiday in France, but French people cannot holiday in the USA. 

Health passport

It’s worth pointing out that once in France, you will need to use the health passport to access venues including bars, cafés, tourist sites and long-distance train travel – here’s how people from the US can access that.

Follow @TheLocalTravel on Twitter for the latest travel news, or keep an eye on our Travelling to France section. You can also sign up to receive daily emails from The Local with all the latest news from France.

Member comments

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  1. My little apartment in Paris has been empty for to long. But traveling to France is just so confusing and things seem to change all the time. It is this uncertainty that is bothersome. I am vaccinated. But I can wait. I want all my french and Parisian friends to be OK when I return. Life will return to some sort of normal, but I won’t take a bet on when. I am old enough to remember polio, I have friends who suffered through polio. I remember getting all the shots at school, many many different ones and it was everyone, no exceptions. Then we got free lunch. Funny how you remember things. We will be back. I have misssed Patrimony week for 2 years running and I am upset!! Please Take Care and Be Safe.

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