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France Closes Borders To Non EU Countries

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In its latest move to combat the spread of Covid-19 in the country, France has imposed a travel ban on countries that are not members of the European Union. It is the latest in a series of bans issued by European countries this week, as the continent struggles to bring the pandemic under control, following fresh restrictions in both Germany and Portugal. Here’s a closer look at the latest decision taken by France, why they have imposed such a ban and a reminder of which travelers are able to visit France at this time.

gargoyle mask covid notre dame paris

France’s Travel Ban – Key Information For Travelers

In his announcement made late Friday evening, the French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that France is to ban both travel to and from countries that are not in the EU. The move has come as somewhat of a surprise, and was announced following an emergency meeting between Prime Minister Castex, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and other governmental ministers. From midnight on Sunday any travel from France “to or from a country outside of the EU will be forbidden,” according to Prime Minister Castex.

woman mask paris park

The ban itself has exceptions, though in some cases these are yet to be elaborated on. The announcement stated that travel for the reason of “motif imperiéux” (compelling reasons) would be the only exceptions. In similar bans issued by France, motif imperiéux has included reasons such as the death of a close relative. Other exceptions include hauliers from the UK to ensure the supply of goods and trade are not affected.

There are a number of countries that are exempt from the ban. These countries are Australia, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore and Thailand. These countries are exempt as they are not considered a risk due to their low levels of Covid-19. Other countries in the Schengen Area, such as Switzerland and Norway, were also confirmed to be exempt by a spokesman for the Prime Minister.

France Avoids A Full Lockdown

In his announcement on Friday, Prime Minister Castex said that the ban meant that France could still give itself the chance of avoiding a full lockdown. At present, France’s 7-day average of daily cases exceeds 20,000, yet studies have shown the proportion of cases that have been attributed to the faster-spreading variants of Covid-19 are growing.

tourist wearing mask

By forbidding travel to or from countries outside of the EU, France is taking a dramatic step in the hope that less cases of the mutated Covid-19 strains find their way into the country. However, the ban also came with some domestic measures aimed at stemming the spread.

From midnight on Sunday, non-food shopping centres with a surface area greater than 20,000 square meters will close and people will be encouraged to work from home. There is also due to be an increase in police numbers to ensure that the curfew is being followed along with the other Covid-related rules.

france is now open for tourism

Who Can Visit France?

Whilst international travelers may be banned and prospective travelers advised to stay home, it is still possible for many to visit France during the pandemic. Those arriving from an EU country must take a Covid-19 RT-PRC test dated less than 72-hours before their flight, whilst those arriving from other eligible countries must take a test along with a sworn declaration.

France Imposes Covid-19 Testing For All Travelers

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Sunday 31st of January 2021

The bans will continue until morale improves.

Julie Gharbi

Sunday 31st of January 2021

Does this apply to travelers in transit who have a layover in a French airport? I don't, but I'm curious because the article doesn't say that one way or the other...

Kashlee Kucheran

Sunday 31st of January 2021

We don't know at this time


Sunday 31st of January 2021

This is horrible news as I was supposed to go to France to marry my fiancé who is a French citizen in a month. Do you know if exceptions are made for non EU residents travelling to France for a scheduled marriage date? We have all the necessary proofs and paperwork. Please help!


Sunday 31st of January 2021

Call French Embassy in your country...Good luck !

Kashlee Kucheran

Sunday 31st of January 2021

We don't know, sorry. Things are changing so fast right now it's impossible to advise. I wish you luck!