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LATEST: Everything you need to know about travel between the USA and France

Tests, quarantine, green lists, white lists - travel between France and the USA is a complicated business that depends on where you live and your vaccine status. Here's how it all works.

LATEST: Everything you need to know about travel between the USA and France
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

Travel from the USA to France 

The USA is currently on France’s orange list, having changed from green on September 12th. The orange list differentiates between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.

Vaccinated travellers – can travel to France for any reason and do not need a Covid test. Vaccination can be proved at the border with a CDC vaccination certificate, and travellers also need to present a declaration stating that they do not have Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with any Covid patients – you can find that HERE.

Unvaccinated travellers – can only travel if they meet the criteria for ‘essential travel’ – this includes French citizens and residents returning home, students beginning academic studies in France and essential work trips, but does not include tourism, family visits or visits to second homes.

You can read the full list of permitted ‘essential reasons’ HERE.

Unvaccinated travellers who qualify under the essential reasons rules must also present a negative Covid test less than 72 hours old at the border, as well as the declaration mentioned above. They are required to quarantine for seven days on arrival. The quarantine can be done at a private home or a hotel and is not the subject of police checks.

To count as fully vaccinated, travellers must 

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen in France). The Indian-produced Covishield vaccine is now accepted by France 
  • Be at least two weeks after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or for two weeks after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19
  • Be at least four weeks after the injection for people who had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine

In France

Once in France, a health passport is required for access to venues including bars, cafés, tourist sites and long-distance train travel.

For this the CDC vaccine card is not accepted, so a French QR code is required – here’s how people from the US can access that.

Feedback from readers of The Local suggests that the online procedure to swap an American vaccination certificate for a French-compatible code can take up to two weeks, so we would advise applying for this before you travel.

From France to the USA

After a lopsided summer in which Americans could holiday in France, but French people could not holiday in the USA, the USA has announced that it’s borders will be reopening from the beginning of November – no exact date was given.

The US announced on Monday that it would reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travellers, provided they undergo testing and contact tracing.

Further details are expected in the next few days.

The US government also advises its own citizens against visiting France – this is advice not a ban, but can affect travel insurance, so check your policy before travelling.

Americans living in France

The various changes in French and American rules do not affect US citizens living in France who had planned a trip home to see friends or family.

The US allows its own citizens to enter, and France allows people with permanent residency to enter, even if they are not vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated you will need to present at the French border both a negative Covid test and proof of your residency in France (eg a visa or carte de séjour).

If you are fully vaccinated you can return to France with the presentation only of your proof of vaccination.

Member comments

  1. Yes. You still must get a test to go back. But it is easy. Many pharmacies give the tests and it only takes 15 minutes to get there results. Of course it will be a real hassle and you will have to stay at least another 10 days in France if the test is positive.

    This article says that the CDC card won’t be accepted at restaurants. That had not been my experience. For two weeks, my husband and I have shown our passports and CDC cards and have had no trouble getting into restaurants or museums. Maybe the bar scene is different. But yesterday after about two weeks from applying on online, we got our French certificate with the QR code. We used it last night and it made life easier. So my advice is to apply at least two weeks before you are going to travel. But don’t sweat it if you don’t have it before you travel. We never were asked for a negative test.

  2. I have a family member applying for a French long stay visitor visa. Is proof of vaccination necessary in order to be granted a visa for up to one year? Thanks.

  3. I submitted everything to demarches-simplifiees on 1 Sept, got the email that they’d received it, but haven’t heard anything back after that. The status page said that it usually took 12 days, and then 13, 14… now it’s up to 19. It sounds like using my US vaccine card will work most places, but it would be really nice to get that QR code by the time I leave in 3 days.

    1. 24 Sept – just received the email and downloaded the certificate and code… just in time! Scanned the QR code into TousAntiCovid and all is well. In the app, there are two tabs from which to choose: One will display a code for restos and activities, and the other tab is for the border that also shows your birthdate and vaccination date.

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‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Europe's airports chief told passengers to leave time for delays this summer as the air travel industry struggles to meet surging demand after the pandemic.

'Arrive early': Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

“The clear conjunction of a much quicker recovery with a very tight labour market is creating a lot of problems,” Olivier Jankovec, head of the Europe branch of the Airports Council International (ACI), told AFP.

He said there were issues from airports to airlines, ground handlers, police and border controls, but insisted: “The system still works”.

READ ALSO: Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

“It’s important for passengers that they communicate with the airlines in terms of when they should get to the airport, and prepare to come earlier than usual to make sure to have the time to go through, especially if they have to check luggage,” he said.

Strikes by low-cost pilots and cabin crew across Europe – including this weekend – are adding to the disruption.

Speaking at the ACI Europe annual congress in Rome, Jankovec said airports had taken measures to improve the situation, which would come into effect from mid-July.

“Additional staff will be coming in July, the reconfiguration of some of the facilities and infrastructure to facilitate the flows will also come into effect in July,” he said.

“I think it will be tight, there will be some disruptions, there will be longer waiting times.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

“But I think that in the vast majority of airports, the traffic will go, people will not miss their planes, and hopefully everybody will be able to reach their destination as planned.”

He also defended increases in airport charges, after criticism from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines.

Airports face “the same difficulties and inflationary pressures” as airlines, which he noted were putting their fares up, he said.

“Staff and energy is 45 percent of our operating costs, and of course inflation is also driving up the cost of materials,” he said.