LATEST: Who can travel to France from outside the EU?

Travel in and out of France from outside the EU remains limited, but the French government has relaxed some of the restrictions since the ban was imposed in January. Here's what the latest rules say.

LATEST: Who can travel to France from outside the EU?
Photo: AFP

On January 31st, in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a third lockdown, France closed its non-EU borders, however from March 12th there are exceptions in place for travel between certain countries


France’s borders are closed to anyone coming in from outside the EU or the Schengen zone.

The only exceptions to the travel ban are people with motif imperiéux (compelling/essential reasons) for travel.

The full list of reasons are;

Family reasons

  • The death of a parent, grandparent, child or sibling or visit to one of these family members who has received a terminal medical diagnosis (death certificate or doctor’s letter will be needed)
  • Childcare by a parent or guardian with custody or visitation rights (court letter and proof of address)
  • Providing vital assistance to a sick or disabled person (document establishing relationship)
  • Travel for legal or judicial reasons (letter or summons)
  • A legal or economic reason that makes it impossible to remain in the country you are travelling from eg the expiry of a residency card 
  • Travel for reasons of personal safety eg domestic violence or custody dispute (any documentation relating to the situation)
  • Returning to your main residence from a trip that began before January 31st (proof of residency eg carte de séjour, receipt of application for carte de séjour or proof of address, plus tickets showing your outward journey)
  • Students beginning or ending a period of study (documentation from the place of study)

Health reasons

  • Medical emergency (one person can accompany the sick person if necessary, doctor’s letter or hospital appointment card)

Work-related reasons

  • Vital work requiring an in-person presence where the work cannot be cancelled or postponed without disproportionate consequences (attestation from employer plus professional card if applicable)
  • Health professionals engaged in Covid-related work (professional ID)
  • Diplomatic or state work trips which cannot be cancelled or postponed (professional ID and/or letters from relevant ministers)
  • High-level sports professionals participating in fixtures approved by the sports minister (professional ID and documentation from the sports ministry)

March 12th

From March 12th, some extra exemptions have been added to this list. They are;

  • Couples who are married or in a civil partnership where one of the members is living abroad for professional reasons
  • Minor children attending school in France while the family home is established abroad
  • Couples with children, one living in France, the other abroad and separated.
  • Students taking a competitive examination
  • Returning to a main residence in France

These rules concern travel both in and out of France, so anyone wanting to leave France and travel to a non-EU country will also need a vital reason.

Exempt countries

From March 12th, seven non-EU countries have been granted an exemption, meaning that people can travel to or from these countries for any reason and do not need to prove that their trip is essential.

They are;

  • Australia
  • South Korea
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • The United Kingdom
  • Singapore


People who are either travelling from an exempt country or fit one of the reasons for compelling travel need a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours. They also need a permission form (attestation de déplacement et de voyage) stating their reason for travel, or a declaration that they have no Covid symptoms, depending on the country of origin. You can download the attestation or declaration HERE.

In short, travellers from most non-EU countries (apart from those seven exempted) need a test and the attestation but travellers from EU countries need a negative test and declaration saying they have no Covid symptoms.

Once in France, travellers from outside the EU are requested to self-isolate for 7 days at a location of their choice and then take a second test. This is a request and there are no checks on quarantine.


Travel within the EU bloc and the Schengen zone is less restrictive, with no need to demonstrate a vital reason for travel – although both French and EU authorities ask people to keep travel to a minimum.

However, anyone arriving in France from an EU country will need a show a negative PCR test, taken within the last 72 hours and also a sworn statement that they do not have Covid symptoms (see above).

Find full details on the rules, as well as exempt categories, HERE.

Member comments

  1. I’ve read elsewhere that travel to and from certain countries such as Australia and New Zealand is exempt from the new restrictions. Is that true?

    1. Hi, I live in NZ. My mother is in France. Before these changes we were exempt and could arrive in Paris, but travelling around France between regions I was advised was incredibly hard. My understanding is that now I cannot enter the country.

  2. it doesn’t stipulate taking a second test after the seven days – it did in the previous rules; in fact i am due to take my test this week but now doesn’t seem to be neccessary (in any case it is all on honour nothing seemingly is logged)

  3. Is it really the case that the same rules apply to travel OUT of France, that is to say a British national can only return to the UK if she has one of the same ‘compelling reasons’ as coming TO France from the UK (of course, with the negative PCR test and all the requirements for entry to the UK)?

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For members


EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Two major changes that were due to come into force in 2022 for travellers entering the EU - an enhanced passport scanning system and the introduction of a €7 visa for tourists - have been delayed for a year.

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Although both the EES and ETIAS schemes are still due to be introduced in the European Commission has pushed back the start dates for both until 2023.

It comes amid a chaotic summer for travel in Europe, with airports struggling with staff shortages and strikes while some crossings from the UK to France have been hit by long delays as extra post-Brexit checks are performed during the peak holiday season. 

The two separate changes to travel in the EU and Schengen zone were originally due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed because of the pandemic. Now the EES system is expected to come into effect in May 2023, while ETIAS will come into effect in November 2023. 

The EES – Entry and Exit System – is essentially enhanced passport scanning at the EU’s borders and means passports will not only be checked for ID and security, but also for entry and exit dates, in effect tightening up enforcement of the ’90 day rule’ that limits the amount of time non-EU citizens can spend in the Bloc without having a visa.

It will not affect non-EU citizens who live in an EU country with a residency permit or visa.

There have been concerns that the longer checks will make transiting the EU’s external borders slower, a particular problem at the UK port of Dover, where the infrastructure is already struggling to cope with enhanced post-Brexit checks of people travelling to France.

You can read a full explanation of EES, what it is and who is affects HERE.

The ETIAS system will apply to all non-EU visitors to an EU country – eg tourists, second-home owners, those making family visits and people doing short-term work.

It will involve visitors registering in advance for a visa and paying a €7 fee. The visa will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips – essentially the system is very similar to the ESTA visa required for visitors to the USA. 

Residents of an EU country who have a residency card or visa will not need one.

You can read the full details on ETIAS, how it works and who it affects HERE.

Both systems will apply only to people who do not have citizenship of an EU country – for example Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians – and will be used only at external EU/Schengen borders, so it won’t be required when travelling between France and Germany, for example.