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World Travel Guide > Guides > Oceania > Tahiti and her Islands

The Islands of Tahiti travel guide

About The Islands of Tahiti

The Islands of Tahiti are known for their laid-back vibes. Expect romantic sunsets and giant curls of turquoise breaking over reefs. Remote and pristine, the islands give you a glimpse of paradise on Earth.

The first Europeans to arrive on the islands were 16th-century Spanish and Portuguese explorers. After them, the British and French took control in the 18th and 19th century respectively. Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia is characterised by its spectacular tropical scenery, banana groves, plantations and flowers. The isle is dominated by Mount Orohena at 2,241m (7,352ft) and Mount Aorai at 2,066m (6,778ft).

You'll find plenty of colonial history on Tahiti, which became a French protectorate in 1842, and was a full colony in 1888. The other islands were annexed by the turn of the century. This status quo remained until 1946, when Polynesia was made an Overseas Territory (Territoire d'outre-mer). A revised constitution, introduced in 1977, ceded greater autonomy to the islands.

For the next 20 years, Tahiti and the islands' politics were dominated by the French nuclear testing program. By the time the program ended in 1996, 193 separate explosions had been detonated, and Tahiti had become the focus of opposition throughout the South Pacific, with plenty of protesting and riots. Although the protesters failed to stop the tests, their campaign had an important political effect by linking the anti-nuclear movement and the burgeoning pro-independence movement, which had up until then been largely unrepresented in any political forum, despite the support of a large proportion of the population.

In more recent years, changes have been afoot: The Islands of Tahiti gained Overseas Country (pays d'outre-mer or POM) status in 2004, and a few months later, pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru was elected. Since then, Tahiti has seen a few more presidents, with Édouard Fritch assuming office in 2014.

Beyond the political questions, the Islands of Tahiti offer an idyllic getaway for holidaymakers keen on sun, sand and tranquillity. And let's be honest, who isn't enticed by that alluring package?

Key facts

Area:

4,167 sq km (1,609 sq miles) - French Polynesia.

Population:

288,283 (UN estimate 2019)

Population density:

67.8 per sq km.

Capital:

Papeete (Tahiti Island).

Government:

Parliamentary system, Unitary state, Dependent territory

Head of state:

President Emmanuel Macron since 2017, represented locally by High Commissioner René Bidal since 2016.

Head of government:

The President of French Polynesia is Édouard Fritch since 2014.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for France 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.

Some travel operators such as airlines may specify types of masks to be worn on board e.g. surgical masks, and may encourage you to take spares for long journeys. Please check with your travel operator before travelling.

From 7 July, PCR and rapid antigen tests will no longer be free for international travellers visiting France. The cost of these tests will be €49 for PCR tests and €29 for rapid antigen tests. If you have a prescription from a French medical practitioner or are identified as having been in contact with someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, these tests remain free so long as you present a valid UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or the new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The process for accessing these tests in France remains the same with a list of places available via the French government site.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in France and for details on France’s current entry requirements and restrictions.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.

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 France

Face masks are required in all enclosed public spaces. It is no longer a requirement to wear a mask in all outdoor public spaces, with some exceptions, including gatherings, queues, markets, and stadiums. Wearing masks on public transport is compulsory for all users aged 11 and over, with fines for those who are not compliant. Masks are also compulsory in taxis and private hire vehicles without a plexiglass screen.

Some travel operators such as airlines may specify types of masks to be worn on board e.g. surgical masks, and may encourage you to take spares for long journeys. Please check with your travel operator before travelling.

From 9 August, certain forms of transport, such as cross country trains, will require passengers to demonstrate their COVID-19 status through the “pass sanitaire”. For further details on what this involves see the ‘public spaces and services’ section below. Since 20 June, there has been no curfew in place across the French territory and there are no internal travel restrictions. You should visit the French Interior Ministry website or use the ‘Tous anti-Covid’ digital app for further information.

These measures may change at short notice either at national or at local level. You should check local guidance for further information.

Full information about restrictions in France can be found here.

Public spaces and services

People attending events and cultural spaces with over 50 people will need to demonstrate their COVID-19 status through the “pass sanitaire”. This can be acquired by fulfilling one of the following three criteria:

1) A vaccination certificate, which conforms to the EU Digital Covid Status Certification framework, illustrating that you are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised by the European Medical Authority. This means:

  • 7 days after a second dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna
  • 28 days after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson
  • 7 days after a single injection for those able to demonstrate they have already been infected (this only applies to those vaccinated in France)

2) A negative PCR or antigen test result from within the last 72 hours.

3) A document (dated more than 11 days ago and less than six months ago) proving you have recently recovered from COVID.

From 9 August, you will need this to access a range of services and venues including leisure facilities (bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas), hospitals, retirement homes and modes of transport such as long distance train and bus journeys and planes. Those aged 12 to 17 will only be subject to this requirement from 30 September.

You can find more information on how to access the “pass sanitaire” from the French government.

Those vaccinated in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are able to demonstrate their vaccination status by presenting the QR code from the relevant NHS portal or by using the downloadable PDF certificate. You can also choose to scan and save your NHS QR code into France’s “TousAntiCovid” app.

More information on how to obtain a certificate/QR code, if vaccinated in Northern Ireland, can be found here and if vaccinated in Scotland, can be found here.

Vaccinated non-EU tourists can request a QR code for domestic use from the French government if travelling to France. To be eligible, you will need to provide the following evidence by email:

  • A vaccination certificate
  • A valid passport
  • Return travel tickets
  • A completed application form

The documents can be provided in PDF, JPG or PNG form, and sent to area3.covid-pass@diplomatie.gouv.fr. The email subject line should read: COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE / SURNAME First name / Date of arrival in France in the format DD-MM-21.

You will receive a QR code by email once the application has been processed, which can then be presented on paper or electronically.

This system is initially open to those already in France or arriving on or before 15 August. Subsequent arrivals will be processed at a later date. You can find full information at the French government website.

Other Covid status certification that conforms with the EU Digital COVID Certification scheme (e.g. from other EU member states) can also be used for entry into settings where there is a COVID status certification requirement in France.

It is compulsory to wear facemasks in enclosed public spaces. This applies to those aged 11 and over. From 17 June 2021, it is no longer required to wear a facemask in all outdoor public spaces, with some exceptions, including gatherings, queues, markets, and stadiums. Failure to comply with these restrictions may result in a fine. Please refer to local guidance for more information.

Healthcare in France

The French government advises those with possible coronavirus symptoms to call 112. You should not go directly to the doctor or emergency services.

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 France.

COVID-19 Vaccines if you live in France

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the French Government announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The France national vaccination programme started in December 2020 and is using the AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson and Johnson), Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The French Government have said that residents of France, regardless of their nationality, will have access to the vaccine in France.

The French authorities have issued guidance on how to get a vaccination in France including details of how to book an appointment (only available in French) and which groups are currently being offered the vaccine. Further information on COVID-19 vaccinations in France can be found on the French Government’s coronavirus information website and on their frequently asked questions page.

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 France, 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.

If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in France, you can obtain a French ‘pass sanitaire’ (which is a version of the EU Digital Covid Certificate) in order to travel internationally. To do so, you should scan the QR code on your paper vaccine certification via the French app TousAntiCovid. Once scanned, TousAntiCovid will save your certification in the ‘wallets’ section of the app, allowing you to present it at the border when you travel. The Certificate proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. It will help facilitate your travel within the EU and, in some countries, you can use it to demonstrate your COVID-19 status to businesses and other organisations. For further information visit the French government’s website on the “pass sanitaire”.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

You should monitor the French government website (in French) to inform your decisions regarding travel to, from or within France.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Industrial action

Limited industrial action continues across France, primarily affecting transport and public services.

If you’re due to travel to or within France, check the website of your chosen operator for the latest information before you set off. In the event of any disruption to Channel crossings, information about alternative routes and operators is available via this interactive map.

Avoid demonstrations wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Public transport

If you use an individual paper ticket on the bus or on trains, make sure you validate it in the machine on the bus or in the station. If you don’t validate your ticket, you may be fined.

Crime

For assistance in any emergency situation, dial 112.

Take sensible precautions against street and car crime. Don’t keep your passport, credit cards and other valuables in the same place; use the inside compartments in bags where possible. Carry your bag across your body rather than on your shoulder.

Pickpockets can work in gangs: one to distract you while the other one goes into your bag. Keep your belongings close to you in restaurants and bars. Don’t be distracted around tourist attractions and cash points.

Be aware of common scams used to obtain money from tourists, there are petition, 3 card trick and gold ring tricks which are all to be avoided, more information can be found here.

Thieves and pickpockets operate on the Paris underground, RER lines and at mainline stations, for example Gare du Nord.

There have been several victims of serious assault on the RER line B, which serves Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports and Paris Gare du Nord Eurostar terminus. There have also been serious assaults on RER line D, which serves the Stade de France.

Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you’re going to drink, know your limit and take sensible precautions such as not becoming separated from friends.

Motorway journeys are usually trouble-free, but if you’re asked by another motorist to stop and you decide to do so, park your car in a public area with lights - like a service station. If you’re involved in a car accident or witness an accident on the motorway, use the orange emergency phones to ask for help.

Hiking, winter sports and outdoor activities

Check weather forecasts and conditions and make sure you’re properly equipped. Don’t undertake any activity alone, and consider hiring a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone. For travel to mountainous areas, make sure your insurance covers you for extra medical costs, repatriation to your country of residence and in the départements of Savoie and Haute-Savoie possible transfer to Switzerland for treatment.

Observe all warnings regarding avalanches and where appropriate consider carrying avalanche search equipment. You can check the latest avalanche risk areas on the Meteo Alarm website. Conditions on roads in mountainous areas can quickly become difficult in winter. You should carry water, food, warm clothing and medicines in your vehicle.

For sports activities like skiing, potholing and mountaineering, and for sports classed as particularly dangerous (eg off-piste skiing, snow-boarding, mountain biking, climbing, ice-climbing, paragliding), make sure you’re covered by your insurance. This should include mountain rescue services and helicopter costs.

Read more about how to stay safe on the slopes.

Local sea conditions can endanger even strong swimmers on the Atlantic Coast. Many beaches provide lifeguards and warning systems (coloured flags) and you should always follow the advice closely. Get information on the specific Baïne danger on the coast of the Gironde and Landes departments from the Gironde Prefecture website.

Follow local advice if jellyfish are present in the sea.

Road travel

In 2019 there were 3,239 road deaths in the France (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 4.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

If you are planning to drive in France, see information on Driving Abroad.

Licences and documents

To drive in France you must be 18 years old and have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. You do not need to carry an additional International Driving Permit (IDP). If you do not own the vehicle you’re driving, you should get written permission from the registered owner.

If you’re living in France, check the country Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a GB sticker or a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September UK stickers will replace GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK before, on or after 28 September 2021.

Driving regulations

Driving regulations in France can differ from those in the UK:

  • The normal rule is to give way to the right each time you reach an intersection
  • The maximum speed on autoroutes is 130kph (80mph) in good weather and 110kph (68mph) in poor weather. Speeding can result in heavy, on the spot fines, and your vehicle and licence could be confiscated
  • Using mobile phones with headsets or ear pieces when driving is forbidden
  • In-car radar detectors and satellite navigation systems warning of the presence of speed cameras or radars are illegal, whether in use or not
  • It’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle and reflective jacket. The reflective jacket must be stored inside the vehicle itself and accessible without getting out of the car
  • It’s illegal to cross, even partially, on to the hard shoulder of a motorway without good reason.

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides on driving in France.

Road safety

Many drivers undertake long journeys in France. Plan your journey carefully, taking into account unknown roads, weather conditions and fatigue. Make sure you take regular breaks.

Keep vehicle doors locked in slow moving traffic and secure your vehicle when it is left unattended.

Information on road safety and potential traffic black spots (in French only) is available on the Bison Futé website. Alternatively, real-time information on road traffic conditions is available on 107.7 FM in French and in English (Motorways radio – Autoroute Info).

Air pollution sticker

All vehicles, including motorbikes, driving in central Paris, Lyon and Grenoble now need to display a special ‘pollution sticker’. You must display a sticker to drive in central Paris from 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday. The requirement to display a sticker can be implemented at any time, depending on pollution levels. Some older vehicles don’t qualify for a sticker at all due to their high emissions; these vehicles can’t be driven in central Paris at all from 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday. In order to manage air pollution levels, cities may also limit vehicle access to town centres and main roads, including the Paris region. For more information, and to apply for a sticker, visit the French Ministry of Environment website (in English).

Road hauliers

There have been reports of burglaries taking place while lorry drivers have been asleep in their vehicles. Avoid parking in isolated or dark areas of unsupervised camping grounds or car parks. Consider installing an alarm in your vehicle.

There have been many attempts by illegal migrants to enter lorries while stationary or in slow moving traffic. Take sensible precautions against attempts to break in to your vehicle.

Heavy goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes are banned from driving on roads in France on certain days during the year, including all Sundays and public holidays. Dates are set by the French Ministry of Transport. Full details of restrictions can be found on the Bison Futé website.

British haulage companies and their employees should contact the Road Hauliers Association for further information about driving in France.

Camping cars

There have been reports of burglaries taking place while travellers have been asleep in their caravans, mobile homes and other vehicles. Avoid parking in isolated or dark areas of unsupervised camping grounds or car parks and consider installing an alarm in your caravan or mobile home.

There have been many attempts by illegal migrants to enter vehicles while stationary or in slow moving traffic. Take sensible precautions against break in to your vehicle, particularly in Northern France.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in France.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places frequented by foreign nationals such as shopping centres, entertainment establishments, public transport and places of worship. Methods of attack have included knife attacks, shootings, bombings, as well as vehicle attacks. Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), the French government has warned the public to be extra vigilant and has reinforced its own domestic and overseas security measures. You should be vigilant in public places and follow the advice of local French authorities.

There is also a threat from individuals with an extreme right-wing terrorist ideology.

In recent years, there have been a number of high profile terrorist attacks across France. Previous attacks in France include:

  • On 16 October 2020, a school teacher was killed and beheaded outside the school where he worked in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a town north west of Paris.
  • On 25 September 2020, a knife attack took place in the Richard Lenoir area of the 11th arrondissement, in central Paris. Two people were injured.
  • On 3 January 2020, one person was killed and two injured in a knife attack near Paris.
  • On 3 October 2019, an employee killed 4 people in a knife attack at the Paris police headquarters.
  • On 24 May 2019, a bomb exploded near a bakery on a busy street in Lyon wounding 13 people.
  • On 11 December 2018, a man attacked civilians with a revolver and a knife at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, killing 5 and wounding 11.
  • On 14 July 2016, 84 people were killed when a truck was driven through a crowd of people on the promenade in Nice.
  • On 13 November 2015, terrorist attacks at multiple sites across Paris and Saint-Denis killed 130 and injured over 400 more.
  • Between 7-9 January 2015, 17 people were killed in shooting attacks across the Île-de-France region including at the Charlie Hebdo offices and a supermarket.

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.

You must be able to prove your identity either by providing documents when asked or within 4 hours at a police station. Identity documents can be a passport, a photo driving licence or other documentation provided by a government body.

Concealing the face in public places in France is illegal. This includes balaclavas, full veils or any other garment or mask that is used to conceal the face. Failure to comply with the ban is punishable by a maximum fine of €150. Under this law, forcing someone to hide their face is also a crime and is punishable by a year’s imprisonment and a fine of up to €30,000. If the person forced to hide their face is a minor, the sentence is doubled. The law does not provide any exemption for tourists.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

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 France set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact their embassy, high commission or consulate. You may also check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and travel documents meet their requirements.

If you are travelling to France for work, read the guidance on visas and permits as the rules have changed since 1 January 2021.

COVID-19 entry requirements

France has introduced a new system governing international travel to and from France. There are three categories of measures: green, amber and red. You should regularly check the status of the country you are travelling to or from on the French government’s website.

Travel between the UK and France

The UK is currently on France’s amber list. Please see the section below on all the requirements for travelling to France from an amber country.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test from a private coronavirus testing provider.

HGV or van drivers arriving in France from the UK are no longer required to provide a negative COVID-19 test to enter France. The latest information for HGV or van drivers is available on this UK government website.

Amber list countries:

The UK is currently on the French amber list. Entry requirements are different depending on whether you are fully vaccinated or not.

Unvaccinated (or not fully vaccinated) arrivals in France from countries on the French amber list will only be permitted to travel for essential reasons (from the list specified for this category of country). If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to have an essential reason to travel from France to a country on France’s amber list.

Those who are not fully vaccinated will also need to present the following documents:

  • a completed International Travel Certificate to confirm their essential reason for travel. In exceptional circumstances, the French Consulate in London may be able to assist with travel for an essential reason not listed on the International Travel Certificate
  • a completed ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight, and that they will self-isolate for seven days after arrival. This can be found on the French government’s website.

  • From Sunday 18 July, arrivals from the UK aged 12 years old or over are required to present evidence of a negative test (PCR or antigen) taken within 24 hours of departure (first flight departure in case of connecting flight). Self-administered tests are not accepted. Arrivals from most other amber countries will need evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure or an antigen test taken within 48 hours of departure.

Travellers who are not fully vaccinated will need to self-isolate for 7 days after arrival, then take another PCR test following this period of self-isolation.

Children aged 12 years old or over who are not fully vaccinated and travelling with a fully vaccinated adult are required to present a negative test result (PCR or antigen). However, they do not need to provide an essential reason for travel, nor do they need to self-isolate on arrival.

Children aged 12 years old or over who are unvaccinated and travelling alone are subject to the same conditions adults who are not fully vaccinated. Children aged 11 years old or younger do not need to present a negative test result to travel.

Travellers who are fully vaccinated do not need an essential reason to travel to France and do not need to self-isolate on arrival. From 18 July, fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to present evidence of a negative test result before travel. Fully vaccinated travellers will need to present the following documents:

  • a completed ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight. This can be found on the French government’s website

  • proof of vaccination status

Further detail on who is considered fully vaccinated by the French government, and how you can prove your status, can be found below under ‘vaccination status’.

If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to complete the certificate to leave metropolitan France, unless you are travelling to a country on France’s red list.

Green list countries:

The European area (defined by the French government as EU Member States, Andorra, Holy See, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland) is currently on the French green list. The full list of countries on the green list is available from the French government.

If travelling from a country on the green list, travellers will not need to have an essential reason to enter France or to self-isolate.

If you are fully vaccinated you will not need a pre-departure test.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to present a negative PCR or antigen test result from within 72 hours of departure. This may vary for certain countries - please check the French government website before travelling.

All arrivals will need a completed ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight. This can be found on the French government’s website.

The French government does not impose restrictions on travellers leaving France for a country on its green list.

Red list countries:

The full list of countries on the French red list is available from the French government. A full list of the documents you will need to complete can be found on the French government’s website.

If not fully vaccinated, you need an essential reason for travel and will have to self-isolate for 10 days, and could be subject to security checks.

Vaccination status

The French Government recognises the following vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson (the vaccines recognised by the European Medical Agency). “Fully vaccinated” is defined by the completion of a vaccination schedule, specifically:

  • 1 week after the second dose of Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca
  • 4 weeks after the single and only dose of Johnson & Johnson
  • 1 week after the single dose of any of the above vaccines if you have previously tested positive for COVID-19

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

France will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record at the border. For details on how to demonstrate your COVID-19 status in domestic settings in France, see the Coronavirus page. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Travel from France to the UK

As the UK is subject to the French government’s amber list requirements, if you are not fully vaccinated and wish to travel from France to the UK you must complete a Certificate to leave Metropolitan France, which specifies exemptions for travel. If you are fully vaccinated, you are not required to present an essential reason for travel. No UK citizen or resident should be prevented from leaving France to travel to the UK. However, return to France will be subject to the restrictions outlined above.

If you intend to travel to England, Scotland, or Wales, including UK nationals returning home from travel abroad, you must follow the rules for entering the UK. For further details on accessing COVID-19 tests in France where required, please see the ‘Coronavirus’ page.

Travel to French overseas territories

Regular flights between metropolitan France and its overseas territories resumed in late June 2020.

There are different restrictions depending on which overseas territory you are going to. Please refer to the French government’s website to check the measures in place in each territory.

See also travel advice pages for the French overseas territory you are visiting.

Further information

Check our COVID-19 advice on things to consider, and be prepared to stay overseas longer than planned.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:

  • You can travel to countries in the Schengen area, which France is part of, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training. Find more information here
  • If you are travelling to France and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.
  • To stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the French government’s entry requirements. To see what your individual entry requirement might be, you should visit the France Visas website
  • if you stay in France with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit
  • British citizens who are unable to return to the UK before the expiry of their visa / permit or the end of their visa-free limit due to COVID-19 restrictions should contact their local immigration authorities in France.

Any time you spent in France or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

At French border control your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You should also be prepared to:

  • Queue in separate lanes from EU, EEA or Swiss citizens.
  • Show proof of where you intend to stay, for example, a booking confirmation or proof of address if visiting your own property (e.g. second home). Further information is detailed below.
  • Show proof of insurance for your trip. Please check the guidance on travel insurance here.
  • Show a return or onward ticket
  • Prove that you have enough money for the duration of your stay. Further information is detailed below.

France categorises possible accommodation arrangements for visitors as follows:

  1. Staying with family, friends or third party - you may be asked to provide an ’attestation d’accueil’ (welcome invitation) from your host if you are staying with friends or family. The French resident hosting you will need to obtain this attestation d’accueil from their local Mayor’s office, and send the original attestation before you enter France. You should also be prepared to show proof of funds of at least €32.50 per day, for the duration of your stay. If you do not have an ‘attestation d’accueil’ you should be ready to fulfil the requirements of option 4 below.

  2. You have a second home in France - you will need to be able to prove ownership or tenancy of your property e.g. a tax or utility bill.

  3. You are staying in a hotel or other commercially provided accommodation - you may be asked for confirmation of your reservation when entering France. You should also be prepared to show proof of funds of at least €65 per day for the duration of your stay.

  4. You do not have an ‘attestation d’accueil’ or any pre-booked accommodation - in this instance, you may be asked to prove you have sufficient means for your visit, of at least €120 per day for the duration of your stay.

British citizens who are unable to return to the UK before the expiry of their visa/permit or the end of their visa-free limit due to COVID-19 restrictions should contact their local immigration authorities in France.

There are separate requirements for those who are resident in France. If you are resident in France, you should carry proof of residence as well as your valid passport when you travel. For further information on for residents, see our Living in France guide.

For further information on these requirements, visit the French government’s website on travel conditions for British citizens.

Passport validity

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.

Make sure your passport is:

  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave France, or any other Schengen country
  • less than 10 years old

The 3 months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date.

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum 3 months needed.

Travelling with children

From 15 January 2017, any child (under the age of 18) who is (a) living in France and (b) leaving France unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, must present the following documents on departure at the French border: (i) the child’s own ID card or passport, (ii) a completed AST authorisation form signed by a parent/guardian (Authorisation de Sortie du Territoire) and (iii) a copy of the ID card or passport of the parent or guardian who has signed the AST form. For more information visit the French Ministry of Interior website.

See the section on Amber list countries for more information on child vaccination status.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from France.

Travelling with pets

If you wish to travel with a pet dog, cat or ferret to the EU, please read our guidance. You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for travel to France. If your pet passport was issued in an EU Member State or Northern Ireland it remains valid for travel to France.

If you wish to travel to France with other pets (for non-commercial means) - rodents, rabbits/hares, ornamental tropical fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates (except bees and crustaceans), you will need a health document which must be signed by a vet.

Travel with pets for non-commercial means is limited to five animals.

You can find more information (in French) at this link and by then scrolling down and clicking on the link to a pdf document entitled note d’information sur l’importation d’animaux de compagnie en provenance de pays tiers. The health document mentioned above is on page 17 of the pdf (annex IV).

On arrival in France, pet owners travelling with pets will need to enter through a designated travellers’ point of entry (TPE) e.g. Calais, Dunkirk.

Customs checks upon entry into France

There are limits on the volume and value amounts for certain goods that you can bring into France as a traveller. You should check the French Directorate General of Customs and Excise website to confirm the latest allowances per traveller.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for France on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in France.

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.

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. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

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).

Healthcare

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. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as French nationals. 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’re living in France, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In France guide.

If you need medication while in France, remember to bring a prescription with you.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 for an English speaking emergency service and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

Forest fires can occur anywhere in southern France during the summer months but especially along the Mediterranean coast and on Corsica. French Authorities may evacuate areas and close roads for safety reasons. Be vigilant, make sure you’re familiar with local emergency procedures and follow the advice of local authorities.

There can be risks of flooding in various areas of France, and avalanches in the mountainous areas. If your accommodation is near a river, check the vigicrues website to be kept informed of any potential flood risks. If you plan a skiing or hiking trip, check weather conditions and follow local advice before going.

The currency of France is the Euro.

Take sensible precautions and remain alert when handling cash and credit cards in public areas and at cash machines.

Credit cards are widely accepted. You may be asked to provide ID if you can’t pay by chip and PIN.

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 (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.

Travel safety

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.

Further help

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.

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