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EXPLAINED: How does France’s Covid traffic light system for travel work?

France uses traffic light classification for Covid-19 travel restrictions. Here's how it works depending on whether countries are classed green, orange, red.

EXPLAINED: How does France's Covid traffic light system for travel work?
Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

France uses traffic light travel classifications, which determines the rules for entry into the country for vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers.

Country categories change rapidly, but there are currently no countries on the red list, only green and orange list countries.

MAP: Which countries are on France’s green list?

Each colour tier then has different rules for vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers. Children under 12 are exempt from testing or vaccine requirements.

Green countries

Travellers coming from green countries can travel for any reason including tourism or to visit second homes and don’t need to quarantine

Green and fully vaccinated – no requirement for a test or a declaration, just proof of vaccination. A vaccine certificate from your home country will be accepted

Green and unvaccinated – a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours if a PCR test or 48 hours if an antigen test, or a certificate of recent Covid recovery (a positive test result with a QR code, taken more than 11 days ago but less than 6 months ago)

Orange countries

Orange and fully vaccinated – proof of vaccination, plus a declaration of being free of Covid symptoms. You can find the declaration HERE.

Orange and not vaccinated – travel allowed for essential reasons only or for certain categories of travellers.

People who qualify must present a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours if a PCR or 48 hours if an antigen test. Once in France, there is no requirement to quarantine, but you may be required to take a test on arrival at the port/airport, if an official directs you to

What does fully vaccinated mean?

To qualify as fully vaccinated, travellers must:

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen). The Indian-produced Covishield vaccine is now accepted by France 
  • Be at least seven days after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19
  • Be at least 28 days after the injection for people who had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • People who have received a vaccine that is recognised by the World Health Organisation but not yet approved for use by the EMA can travel to France if they have had a ‘top up’ single dose of either Pfizer or Moderna 
  • A booster shot is not required to be classed as ‘fully vaccinated’

Paper or digital vaccine certificates are accepted, but they must comply with WHO standards – including the person’s full name, the type of vaccine used and a batch number. The NHS app is now compatible with France’s heath passport.

The EU’s digital health pass is also valid for travel purposes.

For families travelling with children who are not vaccinated, the children can enter under the same conditions as their parents.

For the full list of reasons accepted as essential travel – click HERE.

Member comments

  1. I am assuming that children under 12 from an orange country who cannot yet be vaccinated and are traveling with parents who are fully vaccinated will be subject to testing and quarantine requirements upon arrival? Clarification would be appreciated! Thank you.

  2. I would be interested to know how children (under 16 who cannot be vaccinated in UK so far and under 12s who will not be vaccinated at all) will be catagorised? If travelling with fully vaccinated parents would they be allowed entry with negative test?

  3. What about children from the UK, 16, 13 and 9 year olds, accompanying fully vaccinated parents – I assume they are also allowed in without quarantine.

    Thank you
    Carita

    1. According to the UK govt interpretation of the French announcement in the ‘from 9 June’ section, under 18s are exempt:

      ref: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/entry-requirements

      “Children under the age of 18 years old, who are travelling with fully vaccinated adults, will be exempt from requirements to self-isolate and provide an essential reason for travel, regardless of whether the minor has been vaccinated or not”

      Obviously that is from the UK and doesn’t have official status in France.

      Also worth noting that UK govt page includes the definition of ‘vaccinated’ to include a single dose of a double dose vaccine if you have been previously tested positive for covid. I knew this was the French domestic vaccination rule but hadn’t seen it stated before in the context of their travel requirements.

  4. What’s the source of this story? Only The Local is reporting it so far as I can tell. Without a source, seems like hogwash.

  5. My 9 and 13 year old grandchildren will be driving with their fully vaccinated parents – all 4 having a pre-travel PCR test – one report says the children must isolate for 7 days after arrival – and others are not mentioning it . Anyone know the definitive answer yet ? Also tricky to stay overnight in a hotel enroute to the south.

  6. A WARNING IF YOU HAVE YOUR MARRIED NAME ON YOUR PASSPORT! I showed my TousAntiCovid app PCR test result at an Air France check in desk and it was going to be refused as proof because the certificates in the app only show your BIRTH NAME. Luckily I had the paper copy of the test result which also had my married name. My first vaccination attestation has both names, the second only has my birth name as it has been decided that the vaccination passport will also just have birth name. I am travelling this weekend and have a copy of my birth cert, marriage cert, tax payment and utility bill just in case!

  7. We are thinking of flying from bordeaux to malaga next week. We have both had both vaccinations. Does anyone what paperwork we need to have with us. I have my tous covid app on my phone.
    Thanks.

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For members

COVID-19

Reader Question: When will the new dual-strain Covid vaccines be available in France?

The next generation of Covid vaccines have been designed to combat both the original strain of the virus that kicked off the pandemic in 2020, and later Omicron variants that are currently dominant around much of the world.

Reader Question: When will the new dual-strain Covid vaccines be available in France?

Reader question: I see the UK and the US have approved a new ‘dual-strain’ Covid vaccine – when will these be available in France?

Currently, the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants account for more than 95 percent of the confirmed cases in France, although experts are – as ever – cautious about the possibility of new variants emerging in the months to come.

Two so-called “bivalent” vaccines – one made by Pfizer and the other Moderna – that target both the original and omicron variants have been developed.

The UK has approved the dual-strain Moderna vaccine, and ministers have said that it will form part of the country’s autumn booster campaign, while the US has approved Pfizer’s dual-strain vaccine.

France is part of the EU’s vaccine procurement programme and so far in the pandemic has waited for new vaccines to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) before using them in France.

The EMA has approved three new dual strain vaccines – on September 8th it approved two Omicron adapted Covid-19 booster vaccines, made by Pfizer and Moderna, both of which target the BA.1 strain of the virus and on September 13th it approved Pfizer’s BA.4/BA.5 strain vaccine.

France’s national authority for health, the HAS (Haute autorité de santé) published a press release on September 20th saying that they have authorised “Pfizer and Moderna vaccines adapted to Omicron BA.1 and BA.5.”

Specifically, this concerns the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.1, the Moderna vaccine adapted to BA.1, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.4/5.

The Moderna vaccine adapted to BA.4/5 “could be authorized by the end of September.”

The statement said authorised vaccines can be used “indiscriminately” for at-risk people once the vaccines become available in France “within the coming weeks.” 

Prior to authorising these vaccines, the HAS had announced in early September that the dual-strain vaccines already authorised by the EMA will be available in France “in October” and “will certainly have a place in the vaccination strategy”.

It is planned to combine an autumn vaccine booster programme with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign, which begins October 18th. Full details on that here – Explained: France’s plan for autumn flu and Covid vaccine campaigns

Still under review by EMA is the “bivalent recombinant protein vaccine” which was developed by Spanish lab Hipra and reportedly confers protection against the BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron. It is intended as a booster dose for people aged 16 or over.

The European Commission announced in early August that it had signed a contract to acquire up to 250 million doses of this vaccine, once it is approved.

The autumn booster shot campaign has not yet begun and currently a second booster – a fourth dose for most people – of the Covid-19 vaccine is only available for certain groups of people.

In order to qualify, you must have received your first booster shot more than six months ago and be either:

  • Aged 60 or over
  • Aged 18-59 with a serious medical condition such as cancer patients, dialysis patients or transplant patients that puts you at high risk of developing the most serious forms of the virus
  • Aged 18-59 with a condition that puts you at higher risk of developing more serious forms of the virus. 
  • A pregnant woman
  • Either living with or in regular close contact with a person at high risk from the virus 

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster in France?

So far in France, 32.5 percent of eligible 60-79 year olds have received a second booster dose, and 45.2 percent of those aged 80 and over, while 75.3 percent of those over 18 have received three doses of the vaccine. 

In August experts from the World Health Organisation recommended that those most at risk of the Covid-19 virus be offered a second booster dose.

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