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When will France lift all its travel test requirements?

France has eased the 24-hour test requirement for UK arrivals, but still demands for recent negative Covid tests most arrivals from non-EU countries including the UK, Canada and the USA - so is this likely to change soon?

When will France lift all its travel test requirements?
The must-have travel accessory is now a nasal swab. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP

The measures were originally put in place to control Covid cases and curb the spread of the Omicron variant – but with Omicron now making up 98 percent of all cases in France and daily Covid cases standing at around 400,000, are these restrictions likely to be lifted?

The rules

All arrivals into France – vaccinated or not – from orange countries (which includes the UK, USA, Australia and Canada) need to show a negative test taken within 48 hours of their departure time.

The traffic light travel map. Map: French Interior Ministry

Unvaccinated travellers face further restrictions and must prove that their journey is essential before being allowed to travel at all.

The UK was previously subject to even stricter rules with all arrivals – vaccinated or not required to show a negative test taken within 24 hours of travel. However this was relaxed on February 4th to be within 48 hours for full-vaccinated travellers.

As with orange countries, unvaccinated people must prove that their journey is essential – which rules out tourism, family visits and visits from second-home owners.

In all cases the test can be either a PCR or antigen test, but many home-test kits are not accepted – click HERE for the full breakdown on test type.

Find the full details for travel rules HERE

The problems

The test requirement is proving a particular travel headache for arrivals from the UK – which includes French residents or French citizens returning from a trip over the Channel.

Unlike France where tests are widely available on a walk-in basis at most pharmacies are are free for fully-vaccinated residents, in the UK travel tests must be booked in advance from private providers. NHS tests cannot be used for travel purposes. 

Many people have reported struggling to get results back in time with some travellers missing departures because their test has not come back.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel between France and the UK

The best option is on-site testing at airports or transport interchanges with on-the-spot results, although this can be expensive.

Likewise in the US, many readers have reported having to travel long distances from their home to get a test that is both suitable for travel purposes and will give the results in time.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel between France and the USA 

What is changing?

As France began to report higher daily case numbers than the UK, many British travellers regarded the 24-hour testing rule as unfair and unnecessary.

It was finally scrapped on February 4th, bringing the UK in line with other orange list countries.

But arrivals into France from within the EU no longer need to show any tests, so when is this rule likely to be applied to  non-EU arrivals?

Unlike some countries, France does not have review dates for its travel rules, instead the regulations are reviewed on a rolling basis and are frequently updated.

The change that is under discussion at present is an EU-wide one, in which the European Council proposes a systemic change that would allow fully vaccinated travellers to travel without the need for any further restrictions – including testing or quarantine.

READ ALSO EU countries agree to simplify travel rules for fully-vaccinated

Like all EU proposals that relate to borders, this must be agreed by individual member states. However France has been at the forefront of calling for an EU-wide approach to travel rules, so it seems likely that the French government will agree.

However there is one important caveat to this – it refers only to travel within the EU and Schengen zone, not to arrivals from outside the EU such as the UK, USA and Canada.

When asked by The Local, an EU official told us: “A review of the recommendation on travel from third-countries [non-EU or Schengen zone countries] to the EU is currently under discussion. Therefore, no changes have been made yet.”

France could also decide unilaterally to ease restrictions on arrivals from outside the EU.

On February 4th, France also moved all countries that were on its red list – including the USA – onto the orange list.

Government sources have been reported as saying an announcement will be made to end test requirements for all vaccinated travellers, possibly as soon as mid-February.

We will update our Travel section HERE as soon as there is an announcement. 

Member comments

  1. Almost impossible to comply with the 24hour requirement when travelling from the UK, so I have cancelled my trip for February 🙁

    1. I’ve been trying to plan a trip to the UK, too, but this requirement is ridiculous. My daughter (who lives in the UK) has said that it would be next to impossible to get a result back that fast.

      1. I used Randox Certifly to travel and got my result back, with the required info/fit to fly certificate and QR code in minutes after uploading the test to their app. I had no problems when presenting the results at the border. I hope you get to see your daughter soon.

    2. Psst, just use one of the many providers who allow you to upload a photo of your test. They give you a certificate you can print after reviewing it. Takes 2 hours normally. I have used this 4+ times in the last six months, including twice in the last ten days. Can’t promise it works for flying, but it does for Eurostar and ferry travel.

  2. It’s expensive to do short winter trips over on Ryanair and anything less than a fortnight is not worth the drive/ferry. Extra hassle with this test has meant we will not go till Easter. The sooner we get rid of this Nationalist government with the Evil Clown, the sooner we an build closer, and kinder relationships with Europe.

  3. We are travelling to France on the overnight ferry in the middle of March, we have to travel several hours to Portsmouth to board approximately 6pm. How are we supposed to get a test within 24 hours of boarding? It seems yet more stress is being added.

  4. I used projectscreen (Prenetics) as soon as I uploaded my test I got a certificate the test antigen was 19£. All a rip off frankly. As Uk is the only country France are asking to get tested , really petty and totally unjustified.

  5. It takes at least 24 ours to get to France from Melbourne, Australia. What are we supposed to do?
    We also can only get private PCR testing for travel and I’ve seen this advertised at up to au$600, that’s about €370, with no guarantee that the results will be available within 24 hours.

  6. I can see no mention of the testing requirements for green countries, only orange & red. Does anyone know?

    1. @ Alexander, The official resource from the Interior Ministry is here:

      Under the world map click on the tab for the colour of country you are travelling to/from, then find in the text the correct section (travelling to or travelling from France) and the section for vaccinated or not as applies to you.

      As of now for example, a vaccinated person entering France from a green country requires proof of vaccination and a health declaration, plus a test taken within 48 hours only if you are coming from one of the few non-EU/EEA green countries eg Japan or NZ. However that can change so keep an eye on that page.

      While I’m posting but not related to your question, a couple of the other comments below I think suggest some confusion with these rules still which is unsurprising given how often they change. An Antigen (lateral flow) test is accepted for entry to France where relevant which unlike a PCR takes 15-30 mins and can be done at home with a near-instant online certificate for under £20 (at least for those of us in the UK). Ameliadoran provided one example and there are plenty of alternatives if you search for ‘fit to fly at home antigen tests’. The Local is a great resource but I don’t think the language about readers finding it hard to get tests done is helpful any more since anyone with an internet connection can now get a result in minutes.

      Also it is important to note that the French rule in the link above is that the test sample must be taken within the 48 hours before departure for France, not 48 hours before arrival in France. Not a big deal for Brits perhaps unless they are swimming across but a big difference for the commenter worried about flying from Australia!

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”