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LATEST: France’s new Covid test rules for all non-EU arrivals

France has announced strict new rules for all travellers - vaccinated or not - arriving in France from non-EU countries in the face of the new variant of Covid-19 known as Omicron.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal has announced new travel restrictions
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal has announced new travel restrictions. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, speaking after the weekly meeting of the government’s Defence Council on Wednesday, announced the implementation of new rules aimed at controlling the spread of the newly-detected Omicron variant.

A government Decree published on Thursday provides more detail.

The new rules come into force at 00.01am on Saturday, December 4th and the testing requirements apply to everyone aged 12 or older – including those who have French citizenship or permanent residency in France.

Non EU

All travellers – vaccinated or not – will require a negative Covid test in order to enter France from any country outside the EU or Schengen zone. This would include travellers from the UK, the USA and Canada.

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. Home tests have never been accepted for travel purposes.

For testing rules around the UK’s Lateral Flow Tests, click here. 

All non-EU arrivals must also give a declaration on their honour that they accept that furthering testing can be performed on arrival in France, although it is not clear how systematic this will be.

Bear in mind that many non-EU countries – including the UK and USA – are on France’s orange list, which means that unvaccinated people can only travel for essential reasons.

You can find the full breakdown on travel rules between France and the UK HERE and France and the USA HERE.

EU/Schengen

Arrivals from an EU county or Switzerland, Andorra, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Monaca, Norway or San Marino only need to take a test if they are not vaccinated. Unvaccinated arrivals will need a negative test, taken within the previous 24 hours.

Scarlet list

Attal also announced that from Saturday, flights would resume from the seven African countries currently the subject of a flight ban – but with extremely strict new conditions.

A new category has been created in the government’s traffic light system – scarlet – which will cover the seven countries currently covered by the flight ban – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini – plus Malawi, Zambia and Maritius.

Travellers from these countries will only be allowed to enter France if they have French or EU citizenship or permanent residency, or are diplomats or flight crew. All travel for work, tourism, family visits, study or research from these countries is suspended.

Arrivals from those countries will be obliged to take a pre-departure test and be tested on arrival. Those who test negative will still have to quarantine for seven days on arrival. This quarantine can be done at home, but will be enforced with visits from the police. Those who test positive must quarantine for 10 days in a quarantine hotel.

Fines of between €1,000 and €1,500 will be levied for non-compliance with quarantine.

The new restrictions come in the face of the new variant of Covid, known as Omicrom, first sequenced in South Africa.

France has confirmed cases of the variant in its overseas territories of La Réunion and Mayotte, but there are also 13 suspected cases within France. 

“Let’s not be fooled or naive, there will very probably be cases in mainland France in the coming hours or days,” he said.

Member comments

  1. Does this mean as a French resident shortly to return from a business trip to UK I now need to take a test prior to returning?

  2. Does anyone know if it can be an at home test? If so, how would you prove the result? I don’t trust getting the result back in 48hrs for the tests you send back… So guess the test needs to be done in a testing centre…?

  3. Can you help? I’m living in France and hoping to spend two days in the UK at Christmas (originally this was to avoid having to do and wait for the results of the PCR test on the 2nd day in England). I now need to do a test on Christmas Day or Boxing Day to be able to come back to France. Everywhere seems to be closed for the bank holiday. Do you know of a way I could do a test which is recognised by the French authorities that can be done on line? ….or anywhere I could get a test done in the Portsmouth or Newhaven area on Christmas day or Boxing day? Any help would be so much appreciated.

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TRAVEL NEWS

‘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.

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