French Guiana travel guide
About French Guiana
French Guiana is a tropical backwater with intriguing highlights to satisfy the curious traveller: from rich wildlife encounters to cultural curiosities that sound like the setting for a Evelyn Waugh novel, including the launch site of the European Space Programme, chilling ruins of notorious penal colonies, and isolated indigenous communities.
Tucked between the Brazilian Amazon and the Atlantic Ocean, the sparsely populated country harbours an abundance of plants and animals, well protected in parks and reserves. As an overseas French département, French is the official language. With the Euro as its currency, prices are on a par with Europe, not cheap.
Despite its lack of beaches and swampy coastline, exploration of the jungle-clad interior reveals rewarding sights. St Laurent is the best gateway, an appealing colonial city and former penal transportation centre. Guided tours of the prison are available, and boats go down the Marowijne River, to visit Amerindian and Maroon villages. The welcoming locals have handicrafts for sale, and you can trek to beaches where leatherback turtles lay their eggs.
French Guiana’s most notorious penal camp was on the Iles du Salut, which include the infamous Devil's Island where political prisoners were held. Some 80,000 men died here from cruel hardship, disease and execution. Alfred Dreyfus was the most famous inmate, but it was Henri Charriere who recreated the camp’s horrors in his book, Papillon. Tours of the restored ruins relive this grim history, lightened up by the island’s rich wildlife, including parrots, monkeys and turtles.
By way of contrast, the other major attraction for visitors is the Ariane Space Station, Europe’s satellite launch centre. From the small coastal city of Kourou you can visit the centre, and watch rocket launches. Nearby are some decent beaches to lounge on afterwards, or visit the village of Sinnamary, where an Indonesian community sells handicrafts and art works.
83,534 sq km (32,253 sq miles).
275,688 (UN estimate 2016).
3 per sq km.
French Guiana is an Overseas Department of France and, as such, is an integral part of the French Republic.
President Emmanuel Macron since 2017, represented by prefect Thierry Queffelec since 2020.
President Gabriel Serville since 2021.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for French Guiana on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in French Guiana.
Returning to the UK
Travelling from and returning to the UK
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in French Guiana
Most measures have been relaxed within French Guiana. You should refer to the French Government’s website and the local Prefecture’s website (in French) for details of any remaining local restrictions.
Healthcare in French Guiana
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health
View Health for further details on healthcare in French Guiana.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in French Guiana
Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of French Guiana announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The French Guiana vaccination programme started in January 2021 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines. British nationals resident in French Guiana are eligible for vaccination. Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the local Prefecture’s website and the French Government’s website (French language only).
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in French Guiana, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Crime levels are low, but serious crime does occur in French Guiana. Avoid isolated areas including beaches, particularly after dark. Do not carry large amounts of cash or jewellery with you. Leave valuables and travel documents in safety deposit boxes and hotel safes.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in French Guiana, attacks can’t be ruled out.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in French Guiana set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
On 12 May 2022, the French government announced that travel restrictions between France and French Guiana would be relaxed. If you’re unvaccinated, you no longer need a compelling reason for travel or proof of a negative COVID-19 test before travel.
You may still face restrictions for entry to French Guiana depending on your vaccination status and your country of departure. You should check the status of your country of departure and relevant restrictions on the French government’s website , and the local Prefecture’s website (in French) for details on any remaining local restrictions. For more information on specific entry measures, you should consult the French government website and this French government COVID-19 website (in French).
If travelling via France, you should also check our Travel Advice for France.
French Guiana is an Overseas Department of France (département d’outre-mer) and is part of the European Union.
If you hold a British Citizen passport, you do not need a visa to enter French Guiana for stays of up to three months.
Other British passport holders, and those who plan to stay longer than three months, should check the current entry requirements on the website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, if necessary, confirm with the nearest French Diplomatic mission.
Travellers should ensure that their passport has at least 3 months of validity after the date you intend to leave French Guiana.
Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. You will need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.
UK residents in French Guiana
If you live in French Guiana, you should carry your residence document, as well as your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied but not yet received your document, carry your certificate of application. You will have received this as an email. If you have not yet applied for a residence document, you should carry evidence that you are resident in French Guiana. This could include a tenancy agreement or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020. For more information, including on how to apply for a residence document, see the French government’s website.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK emergency travel documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from French Guiana.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
The French Guiana authorities have introduced new measures in relation to coronavirus. See Staying during coronavirus.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
UK health authorities have classified French Guiana as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.
It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
If you are planning a permanent move to French Guiana, you should consult the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for advice on long-term entitlement as residents to health care provision under the French national system. Enquiries should be made to the DWP Overseas Medical Benefits help-line on 00 44 191 218 1999. Alternatively, information can be obtained direct from the English language service of the Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (French social security service) on 00 33 8 20 90 42 12 or Center of European and International Liaisons for Social Security (CLEISS) (select English version) on 00 33 1 45 26 33 4.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 15 or 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
The rainy season in French Guiana, during which tropical storms may occur, takes place between December and July. Monitor local and international weather updates from the US National Hurricane Centre website. See our Tropical Cyclones page for advice about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.