Covid-19: What are the travel rules between France and the United States?

Covid-19: What are the travel rules between France and the United States?
The US has reopened its borders to vaccinated travellers. Photo: Kenzo Tribaullard/AFP
As France announces new restrictions on all non-EU travellers and the US advises against travel to France, here's a run down of the travel rules between the two countries.

After 18 months of a travel ban on almost all non-US citizens, American has now reopened travel from Europe. But France has tightened the rules for arrivals from outside the EU.

From France to the US

From November 8th, non-US citizens can travel from France for any reason – including holidays –  but only if they are fully vaccinated.

However the White House has indicated that a negative test will be required on arrival for all travellers, vaccinated or not, because of fears over the Omicron variant. Full details on this are yet to be released. 

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The US defines fully vaccinated as;

  • Vaccinated with a WHO approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca)
  • 14 days after the final dose

The US does not give mixed dose vaccines (eg one AstraZeneca and one Pfizer) but it will accept this combination as fully vaccinated.

However it will not accept a single vaccine dose after catching Covid, as is standard practice in France.

US citizens, permanent residents and those travelling to the US on an immigrant visa are not required to show proof of vaccination.

All arrivals into the US need to fill out a travel attestation before boarding.

Find the full details here.

Testing – All travellers over the age of two – US citizens included – must show a negative Covid test before boarding. 

If you are fully vaccinated the test must be taken within 72 hours of travel, non-vaccinated people must have a test taken within 24 hours of travel.

The French pharmacy-administered antigen tests are accepted for travel, as well as PCR tests.  

Masks/health pass – the US does not have a national health pass scheme like that in France. Some States have introduced their own health pass, but these are generally aimed at employees rather than needing a pass to access bars or restaurants. Likewise mask rules vary according to the State, but in general are less strict than the French rules.

From the US to France

On December 6th the US advised its citizens against travelling to France, because of the recent surge in Covid-19 infections and concerns over the spread of the new Omicron variant.

Americans are not banned from visiting a country under a level 4 travel advisory notice, but are urged to avoid unnecessary travel, and to make sure that they are fully vaccinated if they must make the trip.

The US is on France’s orange list for travel, which means that fully vaccinated people can travel in for any reason, but unvaccinated people can only travel if they fit one of the categories for essential travel.

French citizens and those with permanent residency in France are allowed in under the ‘essential reason’ category, but family visits, tourism and visits from second-home owners are not counted as essential. Find the full list of accepted reasons here.

France counts as fully vaccinated those who

  • Are vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson)
  • Are 7 days after their final dose, or 28 days in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines
  • Have had a single vaccine dose after previously recovering from Covid. Travellers must be 7 days after their dose
  • Mixed dose vaccines are accepted 

Vaccinated – travellers need to provide proof of vaccination and, as of December 4th, a negative Covid test.

The test must have been taken within 48 hours of departure. The decree states that only tests “that are able to detect protein N of Sars-Cov2” can be used – this covers all PCR tests but not all antigen tests so you might need to check your antigen test is adequate for travel. 

Home tests have never been accepted for travel purposes.

The CDC vaccination certificate is accepted as proof of vaccination at the border. Travellers must also fill in a declaration stating that they do not have Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with Covid patients – find the form here.

Unvaccinated – travellers must fill in the attestation showing they fit one of the criteria for essential travel, as well as the declaration that they have no Covid symptoms. All travellers over 12 must provide a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours if a PCR test or 48 hours if an antigen test. 

Health pass/masks – masks are required on all public transport and in all indoor venues which are not covered by a health pass (for example shops). Individual businesses also have the right to require masks, even if they are covered by the health pass. There are no exemptions to the mask rule and failure to comply can lead to a €135 fine.

The health pass is required to access a wide range of venues in France including bars, restaurants, cafés, tourist sites, cinemas and long-distance train travel. Unlike at the border, the CDC vaccination certificate cannot be used with the health pass, instead those vaccinated in the US must obtain a European QR code – find out how to do that HERE.

EXPLAINED When and where you need a health pass in France

Member comments

  1. larry maloney
    CORRECTION/Amplification … If you enter the USA via the boarder between Mexico and USA there are NO requirements of any kind.

  2. going to USA via UK. Leave France on Monday by car and fly from Heathrow Wednesday. Looks like i need a day 2 test and an antigen test at least 3 days before flight. Can i get antigen test in France on monday or do i need to pay for one in uk. Don’t understand why can’t just book 1 test for arrival and departure

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