In line with international efforts to control the spread of coronavirus, external EU borders were closed to all non-essential visitors from third-countries in mid-March.
On June 11th, 2020, the European Commission issued guidance to the EU Member States aimed at achieving a coordinated and gradual reopening of borders and resumption of visa operations.
So, whilst several entry restrictions remain in place, it is now possible to travel to France and the rest of the Schengen Area from certain third countries. As explained below, nations must meet strict criteria to be considered safe.
Internal checkpoints had been reintroduced but most have already been removed. Travelling between France and other Schengen countries is now possible in the majority of cases.
Temporary reintroduction of internal Schengen borders
There are usually no internal borders in the Schengen Area. Under normal circumstances, travellers are not stopped at checkpoints when visiting France from other EU nations and vice versa.
However, Internal EU borders were temporarily reinstated as a further means of controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Given that freedom of movement is a priority for the EU, most interior borders have already been removed. Nevertheless, travellers should be aware that there are currently checkpoints in place between France and the following European nations:
- Hungary: until 30th September
- Denmark: until 12th November
- Finland: until 18th September
- Lithuania: until 14th September
- Norway: until 13th September
EU borders are open to certain third-countries
The European Union regularly updates a list of safe countries of origin. This list is a recommendation to the individual Member States who take responsibility for their own borders.
Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are considered EU territory for the purpose of these recommendations and are encouraged to follow the guidelines.
European authorities are continuously monitoring the health situation across the EU and the rest of the world. Based on this information, the list is regularly reviewed and updated.
List of countries for which entry restrictions can be lifted
This list was published by the EU on August 7th, 2020. Countries may be added to or removed from the list at short notice; it’s important that travellers check the latest version as well as any additional travel information for France.
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- China, (confirmation of reciprocity required)
Safe list criteria
The EU wishes to welcome back international tourism without compromising public health. For this reason, third countries must meet certain requirements before making the list above.
- New COVID-19 cases per 100 inhabitants over the last 14 days must be close to or lower than the EU average
- 2 weeks of a stable or decreasing number of coronavirus cases
- Testing, contract tracing, reporting and other measures in place that represent a satisfactory response
Exemptions to remaining travel bans
Non-essential workers can only enter Europe from countries not currently included on the list if they are:
- Citizens of the EU and their families
- EU Member State long term residents and their families
Essential workers including healthcare professionals, diplomats, frontier workers, and seasonal workers in agriculture are also exempt from travel bans.
Coronavirus entry restrictions in France
It is possible to travel to France from 10 of the countries recommended by the EU (excluding China) and the rest of the EU without restrictions.
Anyone arriving from another country, or who has visited another country in the month before departure, must quarantine for 2 weeks if they:
- Have COVID-19 symptoms on arrival
- Are unable to present a negative PCR test take fewer than 72 hours before departure (everyone over 11 years of age)
Visitors are advised to consult the specific advice based on their country of origin.
Visa requirements and applications during coronavirus
Foreigners are subject to visa and visa waiver requirements for France.
Thanks to the visa liberalisation policy of the EU, many third-country nationals can enter France using just their valid passport. From 2022, visa-exempt individuals will also need an ETIAS visa waiver for France.
For travellers who need a visa, consulates have gradually started to issue visas for France again. Applicants should schedule an appointment well in advance as processing may take longer than usual.
Expired Schengen visas for France
Overseas visitors who have a visa for France which they have been unable to use due to border closures cannot use the visa if it has now expired.
Travellers must apply for a new Schengen visa but can take advantage of a simplified application process which requires less supporting documentation.
Coronavirus safety measures in France
Once in France, visitors and residents are expected to follow the safety protocol. Social distancing measures are in place and a mask must be worn in all enclosed public spaces including airports, museums, shops, and public transport in France.
Rules may differ depending on the city, travellers are advised to contact the local authorities for further information.