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DRIVING

Which country’s drivers have picked up the most fines in France?

Of the 13 million traffic violation tickets issued in France last year, almost 2 million - 14.6 percent - were sent to drivers of vehicles registered at addresses outside the country.

Vehicles drive past a fixed roadside safety camera near La Rochelle, France
Vehicles drive past a fixed roadside safety camera near La Rochelle, France. We break down who are the worst foreign drivers in the country.Photo: Xavier Leoty / AFP

In total in France last year 11,160,753 fines were issued to French addresses whilst 1,907,926 fines were sent to foreign addresses.

Figures from the Agence nationale de traitement automatisé des infractions (ANTAI) show that Belgian motorists were the most commonly caught on French roads, with 245,586 tickets sent to addresses over the Franco-Belgian border. 

Spanish drivers came next, with 219,704 tickets set to addresses on the other side of the Pyrenees mountain range. Then came British motorists, with 210,474 tickets issued, followed by drivers from Germany, who received 170,271 tickets.

Completing the top 10 of foreign-registered vehicles picking up automated motoring fines in France is Romania (160,630), Italy (143,461), the Netherlands (139,977), Poland (127,246), Switzerland (114,058), and Portugal (78,398).

Every one of the top four most-ticketed nations showed marked falls from the previous year, records show. Overall, the total number of tickets sent to non-French addresses is heading downwards – 21.6 percent in 2020, compared to the previous year – which itself saw a sharp drop of 14.2 percent on the prior 12 months.

The biggest drop in sanctions was for drivers from Finland, who were handed 60 percent fewer tickets than in the previous year, followed by Swedes (a 58 percent drop). On the flipside, Bulgarian motorists – from a low starting point – received more than double the number of tickets in 2020 than in 2019.

Behind these figures is an important point. A European Directive, passed in 2015, made the cross-border exchange of information on certain traffic offences much simpler. France now exchanges vehicle registration information with 19 EU Member States and Switzerland.

Today, it is possible for French authorities to identify and send a ticket directly to a motorist in a partner country for eight offences: speeding; failure to wear a seat belt; crossing a red light; driving while intoxicated; driving under the influence of drugs; not wearing a helmet; driving in a restricted lane; and using a mobile phone (or other communication equipment) while driving.

British drivers might be able to get away with more in the future. 2020 was the final year that British motorists could be sent fines from France. When Britain formally left the EU on January 1st, 2021, it also fell out of the EU’s cooperation rules on exchange of driver information. 

Currently, French authorities cannot retrieve the name and address of a British-registered vehicle’s owner from their numberplate – a situation that will remain in force until such time a new agreement is reached.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

After two years of limited travel many people are planning a holiday this year and France is a popular destination - but it's easy to lose track of the latest travel rules. Here's what you need to know if you are coming to France from a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone.

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

Restrictions

France operates a ‘traffic light’ system that has been in place since summer 2020, assigning countries a colour based on their Covid infection rates.

These days most of the world is green – the lightest level of restriction – including all the countries in the EU and Schengen zone. Find full details on the government website here.

Map: French interior ministry

Vaccinated – if you are fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) and travelling from a green zone country all you need to show at the border is proof of vaccination. There is no requirement for extra paperwork such as passenger locator forms or health declarations and no Covid tests needed. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Unvaccinated – if you are not fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border. The test can be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated – in order to qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’ you must be vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca or Janssen) and must be at least 7 days after your final dose (or 28 days after in the case of Janssen). If you had your vaccine more than nine months ago, you will need a booster shot in order to still be classificed as ‘fully vaccinated’ if you are aged 18 and over.

Anyone vaccinated within the EU/Schengen zone will have the EU digital vaccine pass, but vaccination certificates issued outside the EU are also accepted at the French border. 

Children – The rules on vaccination apply to all children aged 12 and over. Under 12s do not need to supply proof of vaccination at the border. Children aged between 12 and 18 do not need a booster shot, even if their vaccine took place more than nine months ago.

The above rules apply to all EU and Schengen zone countries – if you are travelling from the UK click HERE, click HERE for travel from the USA and HERE for travel from other non-EU countries.

In France

So you’ve made it into France, but what are the rules once you are here?

On May 16th, France ended the mask requirement for public transport, representing one of the last Covid restrictions still in place.

Masks – masks are now only compulsory in health establishments, although they remain recommended on public transport. They are not required in other indoor spaces such as shops, bars, restaurants and tourist sites, although private businesses retain the legal right to make mask-wearing a condition of entry.

Health pass – the health pass was suspended in March and is no longer required to enter venues such as bars, restaurants and tourist sites. It is still required to enter establishements with vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. In this case it is a health pass not a vaccine pass – so unvaccinated people can present a recent negative Covid test.

Hygiene gestures – the government still recommends the practice of hygiene gestures such as hand-washing/gel and social distancing although this is a recommendation and not a rule.

Self-isolation – if you test positive for Covid while in France you are legally required to self isolate – full details HERE.

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors to France can get a Covid test

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