Traveling to France? There are new rules. Here's what you need to know
France is nothing if inconsistent in maintaining its COVID-19 entry protocols, having changed the process for obtaining the requisite digital health pass four times, now requiring a COVID-19 booster shot for visitors, reinstituting mask mandates and, just yesterday, instituting quarantine for unvaccinated visitors from certain countries, including the United States.
For American travelers heading to France soon or planning a trip in the future, here's what to expect as of Jan. 3.
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Entry requirements for fully vaccinated travelers
Entry rules to France depend on the country from which you are coming, designated by color, available here. The U.S. is currently a "red list country," and entry requirements are as follows.
Fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. who are age 18 and older may enter the country by showing proof of vaccination, results of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within 48 hours prior to departure for France and a sworn statement attesting they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 nor have had contact with any confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Acceptable vaccination proof
Currently, France recognizes vaccines approved by the World Health Organization and European Medicines Agency, specifically Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Those who have received a full dose of a WHO-licensed vaccine not approved by the EMA require an additional single dose of an EMA-approved mRNA vaccine, either Pfizer or Moderna.
Travelers are considered fully vaccinated 28 days after receiving one dose of a single-dose vaccine, seven days after receiving a two-dose vaccine or seven days after receiving an additional dose of an EMA-approved mRNA vaccine for those who received a WHO-licensed vaccine not approved by the EMA.
Per the U.S. Embassy in France, the card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considered "sufficient proof of vaccination for entry."
Entry requirements for unvaccinated travelers
Currently, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travelers are only able to enter France if they possess a "compelling reason for travel," including students and those transiting France for less than 24 hours. A full list of pressing grounds for travel to/from "red" countries is available from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but note the majority of exceptions are not applicable to Americans.
Unvaccinated Americans approved for entry must show a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) performed within 48 hours before departure and are also subject to a second test upon arrival. They must quarantine for 10 days, followed by an additional test.
Ahead of travel, unvaccinated travelers must complete a screening form.
Related: Applications for France’s digital health pass are temporarily closed
Rules for children
Testing, vaccination and booster requirements apply to travelers who are 12 and older, and American visitors must show results of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 48 hours to enter the country.
"Travelers under age 11 are treated as vaccinated regardless of their vaccination status and do not need to have a COVID test. Travelers ages 11 through 17 are treated as vaccinated if they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent or guardian," says the embassy. "Travelers in this age group traveling independently must meet the rules applicable to adult travelers."
French health pass
A health pass is required to access most indoor public spaces, including restaurants/bars, museums, entertainment venues and sporting facilities. It's also necessary for long-distance travel throughout the country on public transit. A health pass can be obtained for $40 by showing proof of vaccination at a local French pharmacy on a walk-in basis. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers can obtain a temporary 24-hour pass by taking a rapid antigen test at a pharmacy. Temporary pass holders will need to procure a new pass after the 24-hour period.
The French government previously announced they expect use of the "pass sanitaire" to continue through at least July.
As of Jan. 15, all travelers to France age 18 and older must show proof of a COVID-19 booster shot taken within five to seven months after their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to retain an active health pass. Prior to this date, the booster is only required for those 65 and older.
Face masks remain mandatory for all those in indoor public spaces throughout the country and are required outdoors in Paris as of Dec. 31, 2021, including in markets. Outdoor mask requirements vary throughout France, so consult local authorities before visiting your destination.
French officials have modified their entry rules based on COVID-19 developments. Consult the U.S. Embassy and French Ministry for the most up-to-date information.
Both the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued Level 4 travel warnings for France, advising Americans to avoid travel to the country.
Other countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Israel, have banned travel for unvaccinated persons, in addition to requiring a COVID-19 booster for vaccinated tourists.
Related: My experience entering Israel as a vaccinated tourist