FOR MEMBERS

Will travel to and from France be open this Christmas?

French border at Gare du Nord
Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP
Many people are now making Christmas plans - but will rapidly rising Covid cases in Europe lead to more travel restrictions over the festive season?

Covid cases are surging in many countries across Europe, leading to the introduction of new restrictions in many places.

France is, for the moment, seeing a smaller resurgence than many of its neighbours, and government spokesman Gabriel Attal has said that the new wave “can be managed without extra restrictions”.

But even if France manages to contain cases through its high vaccination rate and use of the health pass, what is the likelihood of extra travel restrictions over Christmas?

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Within the EU/Schengen zone

Current rule – travel within the EU and Schengen zone is at present largely unrestricted for fully vaccinated travellers, with most countries requiring only proof of vaccination to enter. The EU digital travel pass means that vaccination QR codes are accepted throughout the EU so travellers from France can use the TousAntiCovid app at the border and don’t require any extra paperwork.

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Unvaccinated travellers need to show a negative Covid test to enter most EU countries, but there are no further restrictions such as quarantine or proof of essential travel.

New restrictions? – Since the introduction in July of the EU digital vaccine pass, travel has been pretty seamless within the Bloc and there seems little appetite for reintroducing travel rules.

Even Germany, which is bringing in new domestic restrictions as it struggles under huge case numbers, has not proposed any restriction on travel from within the EU. 

The UK

Current rule – The UK is on France’s orange list so while fully vaccinated people can enter France showing only proof of vaccination, unvaccinated people can only travel if they meet the criteria for essential travel.

Going the other way, vaccinated people can enter the UK from France for any reason, but must still pay for a Covid test to be taken two days after arrival. Unvaccinated people can enter, but must quarantine and pay for two Covid tests. Find a full breakdown of the rules HERE.

New restrictions? – In contrast to much of Europe, the UK has shown a decline in cases in recent weeks, but that’s a decline from sky-high levels of cases over the late summer and autumn.

British PM Boris Johnson made an announcement last week saying: “I’m seeing the storm clouds gathering over parts of the European continent. And I’ve got to be absolutely frank with people: we’ve been here before. We remember what happens when the wave starts rolling in.”

This doesn’t really tally with the facts, but the political rhetoric could be paving the way for new travel restrictions on arrivals from the EU. 

Covid cases remain more than twice as high in the UK as in France, but the UK’s travel rules don’t always appear to be driven by logic – it has previously imposed travel restrictions such as quarantine on countries with significantly lower Covid rates.

On the French side several politicians have mentioned the worryingly high rates of Covid in the UK, including the tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, but if rates in the UK continue to plateau or fall then extra restrictions seem unlikely.

Outside the EU 

Current rules – France operates a traffic light travel system and while the whole of the EU and Schengen zone are green, other countries are graded according to the latest Covid situation. Find the latest on the traffic light system HERE.

New restrictions? – Most recent travel restrictions have tended to focus on non-EU countries and France’s red and orange lists for travel have been updated multiple times over the summer and autumn.

Travel from both red and orange list countries is largely banned for unvaccinated people, apart from certain types of essential travel. The USA was moved from the green to the orange list in early autumn.

The traffic light travel list appears to be here to stay and offers France the flexibility to react the Covid outbreaks in individual countries. It therefore seems unlikely that we will see blanket travel bans reintroduced.

If you’re fully vaccinated you can travel even from red list countries without having to quarantine.

Whether other non-EU countries impose extra restrictions on France remains to be seen but France is, for the moment, enjoying a better situation than neighbours like Germany or Belgium, so would probably not be the first country to have extra restrictions imposed. 


Member comments

  1. Had my booster jab back in UK this weekend but was told there are no plans to link it to the NHS app. So it won’t be possible to link to the French App. Really you can’t make it up…

    1. I’ve seen a Sky News title today that the booster is now on the NHS app, but tried to see it an the app was crashed…so maybe wait a bit to see if it appears there. Also, you have it in Medicines tab of the app (but w/o a QR code)

        1. Just checked again and the Booster is there with a QR code!!! And I got my booster this past Wednesday, so that is brilliant!

  2. What happens when U.K. visitors over 65 are unable to get proof of their boosters? Especially as to visit a cafe or restaurant in France after the 15th December it will be necessary to have proof of the 3rd vaccination?

  3. The French health pass is going to require over 65s to have a booster six months after the second dose. Does this affect travel to France and when? How can anyone who has a booster in the UK evidence it as it does not yet appear on the NHS vacinnation certificate for travel.

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