Before making any firm plans to visit France, do check the many websites including this English-language version from the French government.
Download your comprehensive France Buying Guide for everything you need to know about purchasing a property there.
The health situation in France
France has recorded 129.6 infections per 100K people in the last 7 days, as of November 18th.
This is well below the UK’s current rate of 405 infections per 100K people in the last 7 days.
Around 88% of the French population are fully vaccinated.
Although France’s night-time curfews and internal travel restrictions ended in late June, facemasks remain obligatory in all public indoor areas. It is no longer a requirement to wear a mask in outdoor public spaces, with some exceptions including markets and stadiums.
New vaccine rules in France
Since 21 July anyone wanting to visit a theatre, cinema, sports venue or festival with an audience of more than 50 people needs to show a health pass or ‘Pass Sanitaire’, proving they are either fully vaccinated or have tested negative.
Since 1 August this has been extended to bars, cafes, restaurants, shopping centres, hospitals, planes and long-distance trains. Any employees of these establishments have also had to show a health pass since August 30. Minors aged 12-17 now also need a health pass.
People who work in medical care and the fire service have also needed to complete their vaccination or face suspension without pay, followed by dismissal if they persist in refusing. The result has been a surge in vaccine requests.
It was also recently announced that over-65s in France will have to get their booster jab to be considered fully vaccinated from mid-December. They will be required to have received three vaccinations for their Covid “passports” to be valid for entry to restaurants, museums, and other public places.
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France’s health pass
When you travel to France, download the #TousAntiCovid app. When loading it, this should automatically detect you’re in the UK and set the language accordingly.
Effectively it is the same as the UK’s NHS covid-19 app, detecting people around you who have tested positive, but also showing your vaccine status, or recent tests.
The pass must prove one of the three following items:
• That you are fully vaccinated (with an EMA-approved vaccine):
o Two weeks after the second shot for two-shot vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca);
o Four weeks after the shot for one-shot vaccines (Johnson & Johnson);
o Two weeks after the shot for vaccines administered to people who have already had COVID-19 (only one dose is necessary).
• OR that you have been tested (PCR or antigen) with a negative result within the last 48hrs;
• OR that you have recovered from COVID-19, attested by a positive PCR or antigen test result, at least 15 days and no more than 6 months old.
Passes can be digital (on the TousAntiCovid app) or in paper form (proof of vaccination or test result). They must be presented in English or French.
Rules for those travelling from UK to France
France has a green, amber, red list too, and the UK is on amber.
To travel to France (unless in certain strict categories, which do not include most British residents, see bottom of this page) you must have been “fully vaccinated”. That means with two doses of the Moderna, AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, completed at least 14 days ago, or one dose of the Janssen vaccine at least 28 days ago.
You no longer need to get a negative PCR test, unless you are unvaccinated — in which case you’ll need it less than 72 hours before travelling, but you will need to sign a statement that you (a) have no Covid-19 symptoms and (b) have not been in contact with anyone with the disease.
Rules for those travelling from France to the UK
France is now on the ‘rest of the world’ list, which combines countries that were previously on the green and amber lists.
If you are fully vaccinated:
- You no longer have to take a pre-departure test before travelling to the UK
- You do not have to self-isolate upon your return
- You must take a day two PCR or lateral flow test after arriving back in the UK
If you are not fully vaccinated:
- You must still take a pre-departure test (PCR or lateral flow) within three days before travelling to the UK
- You must self-isolate for 10 days upon your arrival
- You must take a day two and day eight PCR test
- You may take an additional day five PCR test and be released from isolation early if you test negative
The easiest way to find a place to get a Covid-19 test is through the government website sante.fr. Simply type in the department you are in and you will see a list of all laboratories offering tests.
Costs €49 for PCR and €29 for antigen.
For a smooth move to France, you need to make sure that your budget is protected to reduce risk from exchange rate flux. Find out how in our partner Smart Currency Exchange’s guide, The Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.
Unvaccinated travellers to France
When travelling to France without a complete vaccination from an amber list country:
- When boarding, you must present a negative PCR test of less than 72 hours or a negative antigenic test of less than 48 hours.
- You must give a compelling reason to be admitted into metropolitan France.
- You may be required to take a random test on arrival and you must agree to self-isolate for seven days on arrival.
- If you travel to France by Eurostar, you will be required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival.
- You must self-isolate for 7 days on arrival.
Passengers wishing to travel to France must present this certificate to transport companies before boarding and to border control authorities. It applies to travellers arriving by a direct flight or after a transit of less than 14 days in another country. Failure to do so shall result in the passenger being denied boarding or access to the territory.
Additionally, the following must be presented:
- A sworn statement certifying the absence of COVID-19 symptoms and any contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19;
- For persons aged 11 years or more, a virological screening test (PCR) of less than 72 hours prior to boarding showing no COVID-19 infection or an antigenic test taken less than 48 hours before boarding, showing no COVID-19 infection;
- A sworn commitment to take an antigenic test or biological examination that may be conducted on arrival in metropolitan France;
- A sworn commitment to self-isolate for seven days and another sworn commitment to take a biological virological screening test (PCR) at the end of the isolation.
Who can travel to France unvaccinated?
- French citizens, their spouses (married, civil union and cohabiting) and their children.
- Citizen of the European Union or equivalent, and their spouse (married, civil union or cohabiting partner) and their children, whose main residence is in France or who is returning, in transit through France, to their main residence in a European Union country or equivalent, or to a country whose nationality they hold;
- Citizens of other countries with a valid French or European residence permit or long-stay visa whose main residence is in France or who are in transit through France to their main residence in a European Union country or a similar country.
- British citizens and their family members who are beneficiaries of the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community. British civil servants exercising their duties, border police officers and customs officers. Channel Tunnel staff (engaged inter alia in operations, maintenance, security) or cross-Channel facilities staff.
- Citizens of other countries holding a long-stay visa issued for purposes of ordinary family reunion or refugee family reunification, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection and stateless persons.
- Foreign health or research professionals involved in the fight against COVID-19 as well as their spouse (married, civil partner, cohabiting partner subject to proof of community of life) and children.
- Foreign health or research professional engaged as an associate trainee.
- Citizens of other countries with a “talent passport” long-stay visa, as well as their spouse (married, civil union or cohabiting partner on presentation of proof of community of life) and children.
- Students enrolled in French as a foreign language (FFL) courses prior to enrolment in higher education or admitted to the oral examinations of French higher education institutions or enrolled to begin the new 2021-2022 academic year. Researchers settling in France on the invitation of a research laboratory, for research activities that require physical presence, as well as their spouse (married, civil partner, cohabiting partner on presentation of proof of community of life) and children.
- Workers in the land, sea and air transport sector or transport service providers (including drivers of any vehicle transporting goods for use in the territory as well as those only in transit, or travelling as passengers to resettle in their home base or for training).
- Foreign citizen working for a diplomatic or consular mission, or an international organisation with its headquarters or an office in France, as well as their spouse and their children or a foreign citizen of a third country staying in France for a compelling professional reason under a mission order issued by their country of origin.
- Travellers in transit for less than 24 hours in an international zone.
What does this mean for buying property?
Estate agents have been extremely busy last year and at the beginning of this year. If you are still nervous about travelling to France, you could always start your property search with a virtual viewing. Virtual viewings are now offered as a matter of course, with even domestic buyers using them.
Since the UK has now left the EU, there are a few things to consider when buying a holiday home in France or moving there permanently.
You can stay in France, or any EU country, for 90 days out of 180 without being registered as a resident. If you are looking to stay in France permanently, you would need to apply for residency over that period. That could be either on a self-employed or an employed basis, where you would need a minimum income in France. For more information, visit the French government’s website.