France ends free Covid tests for tourists

France ends free Covid tests for tourists
French residents can still get free tests for any reason, including travel. Photo: Thomas COEX / AFP.
Foreign tourists and visitors are no longer be eligible for free Covid tests in France after the government scrapped free testing for non-residents, blaming a "lack of reciprocity" from other countries.

Visitors who need a Covid test while in France – including a travel test to return home – may now have to pay for it. However, prices are capped at €49 for a PCR test or €29 for the rapid-result antigen test (known as a lateral flow test in some countries).

Tests for residents continue to be free, including tests for travel.

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

“It’s a matter of reciprocity, knowing that French people who travel have to pay for tests in most countries,” government spokesman Gabriel Atta said in an interview with Les Echos newspaper.

The French government had announced in May that tourists would be able to get tested for free, in order to make France an attractive holiday destination. Some holiday destinations are still planning to offer free tests at pop-up testing centres over the summer.

The government will also be distributing self-test kits at tourists destinations such as beaches and campsites over the summer, but most countries do not accept the results of self-tests for travel purposes.

Many countries require visitors, including residents who are returning from abroad, to take a Covid test before travelling. In the USA, Canada and the UK, there are currently no exemptions for travellers who have been fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated people no longer need tests to travel between EU or Schengen zone countries, as long as they show a European health pass.

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

Certain doctors have also been calling on France to charge unvaccinated residents for “convenience tests”, taken in order to travel or to enter certain venues such as nightclubs. But for now, people living in France will continue to be offered free tests for all purposes.

“Lots of French people are still waiting for their second vaccine dose, but the question will arise in September,” Attal said.

France is one of the only countries to offer free PCR tests – which can cost around €120 in Spain, £120 in the UK and €300 in Sweden – to residents for all purposes, including travel.


Member comments

  1. Quite rightly France will charge a reasonable price for visitors to access a PCR test. It would be nice if the UK would do the same instead of allowing the profiteering for private PCR tests to continue unabated. I read in the British press today that the government wants ambassadors to pull out all the stops to enable travel when the British school holidays start when all that is needed is some reciprocity in the approach. Bovine Boris is to dense to realise this however. Nothing new there.

  2. As an American, in January when I needed a PCR Covid test to fly to the USA i paid over 62€ at a public testing site where I live. As I don’t participate in the French health system I was charged. Which is fine with me. So I don’t know which foreigners were accorded free Covid testing as that. Was not my personal experience

  3. I read today that even if vaccinated Americans will have to get tested every 72 hours to enter most indoor places? Is this true? Museums etc.
    We have our CDC cards but have not been able to convert them to green pass but planned on having them with us at all times to show proof.
    Thank you.

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