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TRAVEL

Everything you need to know about travel between France and the USA or Canada

France has moved the USA and Canada onto its green list, opening up travel to all for the first time in more than a year. There are still rules and requirements in place, however - here's what you need to know.

Everything you need to know about travel between France and the USA or Canada
Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP

When France introduced its traffic light travel list at the start of June, both the USA and Canada were on the orange list, which severely limited travel for non-vaccinated passengers.

However both countries have now been moved to the green list, which means that all passengers – vaccinated or not – can again travel to France for any reason, including tourism, family visits and visits to second homes, for the first time since March 2020.

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

Travel to France

Vaccinated – if you are fully vaccinated you can travel to France for any reason and do not need to quarantine or take a Covid test before travel. You will, however, need to fill in a declaration stating that you do not have Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with a Covid case in the 14 days before travel. You can find the declaration HERE.

In the context of travel, ‘fully vaccinated’ has a very specific meaning. Travellers must:

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen in France) 
  • Be at least two weeks after the second injection for double-dose vaccines, or two weeks after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19
  • Be at least four weeks after the injection for people who had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine

You will need to show proof of vaccination at check-in and at the border, a certificate issued by a medical authorities that includes your full details as well as the type of vaccine you had and the vaccine batch number. This can be in either paper or electronic format.

Unvaccinated – you can travel to France for any reason and do not have to quarantine on arrival. You will, however, need a negative Covid test before you can board transport. This can be either a PCR or an antigen test, taken within the previous 72 hours. Children under 11 are exempt from the testing requirement.

You will also have to fill in a declaration stating that you do not have Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with a Covid case in the 14 days before travel. You can find the declaration HERE.

Masks – Masks are required during the flight and in all indoor public spaces in France, including on public transport. Some airlines have specific requirements on the type of mask that must be worn, so check with your airline before travel.

Masks are also required in certain outdoor spaces in France and failure to wear one correctly – so that it covers your mouth and nose – can result in a €135 fine.

READ ALSO Where do you need to wear a mask in France?

Rules in France – France is opening up and many health restrictions have been dropped as case numbers fall. There are still plenty of rules in place, however, while entry to certain spaces will require a health passport. Find a full breakdown of the rules HERE.

From France to the USA 

The US State Department has removed France from its ‘level 4’ list of countries and travel to France is now simply advised against, due to a combination of Covid numbers and the risk of terror attacks and demonstrations (advice that has been in place for several years now).

Entry to the USA remains limited to US citizens and permanent residents, and their family members. 

All passengers entering the USA from France need to provide a negative Covid test – PCR or antigen – taken within the previous 72 hours. Passengers under two are exempt from the testing requirement, but vaccinated travellers are not. If you have recovered from Covid in the 90 days preceding travel, you can provide a medical certificate instead of a Covid test. Find full details HERE.

Covid tests in France are no longer free to tourists, but prices are capped at €49 for a PCR test or €29 for an antigen test. They are available via testing labs for PCR tests or pharmacies for antigen tests. Popular holiday destinations will again be providing pop-up testing centres this summer.

READ ALSO How visitors can get a Covid test in France  

From France to Canada

Canada still has strict entry restrictions in place, but from July 5th these will be relaxed for fully vaccinated travellers.

From July 5th, fully vaccinated travellers can enter Canada for any reason and will not have to quarantine. They will, however, still need a negative Covid test before travel and to undergo on-arrival testing and complete an online form in advance of travel.

Until July 5th, and afterwards for unvaccinated travellers, only certain groups can enter Canada from France. These include Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada and those travelling for vital reasons – find the full rules HERE.

Member comments

  1. Can I fly from the USA to Barcelona and then drive to Perpignan, with a negative PCR or antigen test, if I stay one night in Barcelona to rest?

    1. Yes it is still required. I had to get it for a flight for the USA the other day and had it approved within half an hour. But sadly the USA are not allowing anyone from France to enter without an essential travel reason. I was going for a wedding and had to cancel my flights last night (flight was for today).

  2. I think I’m going to give up on international travel this year. In addition to the uncertainties related to new strains of the virus, the utter incompetence and political point scoring bent of politicians in all countries but in particular France, Germany and the UK, mean that the chances of being unfairly and even badly treated at the borders of those countries make the idea of putting myself and my family through such an ordeal about as inviting as dipping my privates in boiling oil.
    My heart bleeds for those poor people who previously worked in the travel industry. They have been hung out as the sacrificial lamb to the great shame of all those politicians responsible.

  3. This article is inaccurate: “Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel.” Thus, the U.S. rule for Covid tests is 3 calendar days, not 72 hours.

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For members

MONEY

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

If you're visiting Italy from outside the EU you risk running up a huge phone bill in roaming charges - but there are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by extra charges.

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country then you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but people visiting from non-EU countries – which of course now includes the UK – need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with Three for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in Italy. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in Italy.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:

WindTre

WindTre, the result of a 2020 merger between the Italian company Wind and the UK network provider Three, currently offers a “Tourist Pass” SIM card for foreign nationals. For €24.99 (it’s sneakily marketed as €14.99, but read the small print and you’ll see you need to fork out an additional €10), you’ll have access to 20GB of data for up to 30 days.

The offer includes 100 minutes of calls within Italy plus an additional 100 minutes to 55 foreign countries listed on the WindTre website. Up to 13.7GB can be used for roaming within the EU. The card is automatically deactivated after 30 days, so there’s no need to worry about surprise charges after you return from your holiday. To get this SIM card, you can go into any WindTre store and request it.

A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Vodafone

Vodafone has had better deals in the past, but lately appears to have downgraded its plan for tourists, now called “Vodafone Holiday” (formerly “Dolce Vita”), to a paltry 2GB for €30. You get a total of 300 minutes of calls and 300 texts to Italian numbers or to your home country; EU roaming costs €3 per day.

Existing Vodafone customers can access the offer by paying €19 – the charge will be made to your Vodafone SIM within 72 hours of activating the deal. 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

The Vodafone Holiday offer automatically renews every four weeks for €29 – in order to cancel you’ll need to call a toll-free number. The Vodafone website says that the €30 includes the first renewal, suggesting the payment will cover the first four weeks plus an additional four after that, but you’ll want to double check before buying. You’ll need to go to a store in person to get the card.

TIM

TIM is one of Italy’s longest-standing and most well-established network providers, having been founded in 1994 following a merger between several state-owned companies.

The “Tim Tourist” SIM card costs €20 for 15GB of data and 200 minutes of calls within Italy and to 58 foreign countries, and promises “no surprises” when it comes to charges.

You can use the full 15GB when roaming within the EU at no extra charge, and in the EU can use your minutes to call Italian numbers. The deal is non-renewable, so at the end of the 30 days you won’t be charged any additional fees.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

To access the offer, you can either buy it directly from a TIM store in Italy, or pre-order using an online form and pay with your bank card. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a PIN which you should be able to present at any TIM store on arrival in Italy (along with your ID) to collect your pre-paid card. The card won’t be activated until you pick it up.

Iliad

Iliad is the newest and one of the most competitive of the four major phone companies operating in Italy, and currently has an offer of 120GBP of €9.99 a month. For this reason, some travel blogs recommend Iliad as the best choice for foreigners – but unfortunately all of their plans appear to require an Italian tax ID, which rules it out as an option for tourists.

Contract

Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in Italy, as mentioned above, there’s a significant different difference between buying a one-time pre-paid SIM versus a monthly plan that auto-renews.

Make sure you know which one you’re signing up for, and that if you choose a plan that will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, you remember to cancel it.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.

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