Here’s how to travel to France right now and what it’s like once you arrive

May 16, 2022

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To the regulars who read this column weekly, first of all, thank you, and second, please excuse my absence for the past two weeks, which resulted from my traveling to and from France.

After a brief departure from writing about France in my most recent column, we will pick up where we left off, with what I hope will be all the information you need to know for any upcoming trips to Paris or beyond.

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In This Post

What are the current entry requirements for Americans?

Proof of vaccination and two predeparture documents

To enter France, Americans are told they will need to be prepared to show three pieces of information to check in at the airport and board their flight to France. However, the only documentation I was asked to show was proof of full vaccination, which is verified by your Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-issued card.

French officials consider travelers fully vaccinated if at least one month or four weeks has elapsed since the final dose of the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccine.

Even if you check in online ahead of your flight and receive a mobile boarding pass, expect to be asked to show your vaccination proof in person to airline staff before you board, even if you don’t check in at the gate before going through security.

In addition to providing vaccination proof to your airline, incoming travelers are asked to sign a document attesting they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms nor have they knowingly been in contact with someone who tested positive recently. I carried a printed copy of this form.

Lastly, I was told to complete an online form called the EU Digital Passenger Locator Form. This form is reportedly used by health officials in France, Slovenia and Malta to facilitate contact tracing should a traveler be exposed during travel. Travelers to these countries are advised to complete this form digitally and carry around the corresponding QR code you will receive upon completion.

Although I was not asked to show either document at any point throughout my journey from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Paris-Orly Airport (ORY), I recommend filling out the forms as directed.

Checking in at LAX for my flight to ORY on April 30. (Photo by Caroline Tanner/The Points Guy)

Do you need to have a booster to be considered fully vaccinated?

Technically yes, if it’s been nine or more months since your final dose

Since February, the French government has required all travelers age 18 and older to get a booster within the nine-month period following one’s final vaccine dose in order to maintain their status as fully vaccinated individuals.

This language was not meant to prohibit tourists who are vaccinated but not (yet) boosted from visiting France, as people are eligible to enter within one week of their booster shot, regardless of the timing.

For example, I received my second vaccine dose in April and booster shot in November, well within the nine-month window. However, a traveler vaccinated this month could continue to travel to France without proof of a booster until February 2023, at which point a booster would be required. You could even wait until March or April (or any subsequent month) to get boosted though. This is because although a booster becomes required at the nine-month mark, it doesn’t have to be administered at month nine, just by or after month nine.

Having said that, it was not ever conveyed to me during the check-in process that any distinction was noted between the timing of my two-dose vaccine and booster shot.

Do they check your vaccination status at any other point?

Vaccination status is not verified after you leave the US

Once I showed my CDC card to the gate agent handling check-in for my outgoing flight to France, I put my vaccination card away and did not retrieve it again for the rest of the trip. You should not feel the need to carry your card with you while in France.

Arriving at ORY on May 1. (Photo by Caroline Tanner/The Points Guy)

Are you able to travel to Paris without proof of a negative COVID-19 test?

Unvaccinated travelers must take a test to visit

The only travelers who need to worry about taking a test before leaving for France are those who are unvaccinated. If you do not meet the aforementioned qualifications to be considered fully vaccinated, you must provide negative results of either a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure or an antigen test taken within 48 hours.

There’s just one exception. France does not appear to be wavering on this existing predeparture requirement, though travelers who have recovered from COVID-19 within the preceding 11 days up to six months prior to departure may be able to enter without a test by showing the original positive test result, according to the U.S. Embassy in France.

A pharmacy in Paris with a COVID-19 testing site outdoors. (Photo by Caroline Tanner/The Points Guy)

Are people wearing masks?

Overall, I saw very few people wearing masks in Paris

Public transportation, including the Metro and buses, is the only place where face coverings remain compulsory for those age 6 and older. There are signs throughout the Metro stations reminding you of such.

Even so, I took both the Metro and bus a number of times during my trip and observed many fellow passengers not wearing masks and they were not asked to do so.

Although this is mandated by French law and noncompliance can result in a fine of up to $160, I did not observe any enforcement.

People wearing masks on the Metro in Paris. (Photo by Caroline Tanner/The Points Guy)

Outside of the Metro, I was surprised to see the lack of mask-wearing in indoor crowded spaces I visited, including at a huge department store called Galeries Lafayette and at the Palace of Versailles.

Besides some people wearing masks on the Metro, at the airport and in random places, things in France appeared to be about as normal as they were pre-pandemic. In typical French fashion, restaurants don’t open until 7 p.m., and we had trouble getting into restaurants without a reservation once it hit 9 p.m. After dinner each night, the streets were filled with locals drinking and hanging out at the brasseries until the early hours of the morning.

Au revoir!

Have a question for next week? Email me at caroline.tanner@thepointsguy.com or tips@thepointsguy.com.

Featured photo by Caroline Tanner/The Points Guy.

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