France Shuts Its Border To Non-EU Travelers

The French government has announced that it will be closing its borders to travelers arriving from outside the European Union effective tomorrow. This new policy is being imposed to slow the spread of new variants of COVID-19 from abroad while hopefully avoiding a third lockdown. Here’s what you need to know about France’s new border restrictions.

Air France 787-9
France has already been through two lockdowns restricting local movements but hopes to avoid a third by closing its borders to those outside the EU. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

Entry and exit to overseas territories prohibited

According to a Twitter post from French prime minister, Jean Castex (embedded below), any entry into France from a country outside the European Union will be prohibited from midnight Sunday. Additionally, departures to or from overseas territories will not be permitted. However, it was stated that ‘compelling reasons’ would be permitted.

The announcement was made on Friday, January 29th, giving those affected very little time to prepare. The decision was made at the end of an emergency government health security meeting at the presidential palace.

Restriction details

According to AP News, France will close its borders to travelers arriving from outside the European Union. Meanwhile, travelers arriving from other EU states will be required to produce a negative virus test.

In the announcement by Castex, it was noted that ‘compelling reasons’ would be allowed as an exception to the travel ban. While cross-border workers are exempt from having to produce test results, it was not specified what ‘compelling reasons’ might entail.

Apart from travel and border restrictions, France will also close all large non-food shopping centers greater than 20,000 square meters starting Monday. Police checks will also be increased to ensure compliance with the country’s 12-hour-per-day curfew and to shut down secret parties or open restaurants.

“Fellow citizens, more than ever, we must do everything to respect the rules and those that allow us day to day to fight against this pandemic…Let us be very vigilant but let us have confidence because in each state the collective and individual efforts we have made have paid off…” – Jean Castex, Prime Minister of France, via Twitter.

France Shuts Its Border To Non-EU Travelers
Despite often being considered long-distance domestic travel, flights to and from France’s overseas territories on the other side of the Atlantic will also be restricted. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

Air France reacts

Flag carrier Air France has reacted to the news by issuing a notice on its website, which was last updated on January 30th, 11:30 AM Paris local time. It states the following:

“Conditions for entry and types of authorized tests for travel to Metropolitan France and French Overseas Territories have changed. The new regulations apply to all travelers, regardless of their nationality. We are waiting for the regulatory Framework concerning the new travel restrictions to and from France announced by the French government on January 29, 2021. As soon as we receive the necessary information, we will update and websites.”

It appears from the Air France website that the finer details of these travel restrictions (including perhaps what ‘compelling reasons’ are permitted) still need to be worked out and specified. For those who may be affected, it would be advisable to check your airline’s website regularly.

Simple Flying will also do its best to report updates and changes to travel policies.

Are you affected by these new travel restrictions? Share your experience and situation by leaving a comment.