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?
4,167 sq km (1,609 sq miles) - French Polynesia.
288,283 (UN estimate 2019)
67.8 per sq km.
Papeete (Tahiti Island).
Parliamentary system, Unitary state, Dependent territory
President Emmanuel Macron since 2017, represented locally by High Commissioner René Bidal since 2016.
The President of French Polynesia is Édouard Fritch since 2014.
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.
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
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 in France and you’re fully vaccinated (including a booster) or if you’ve had COVID-19 in the last 4 months, you must self-isolate for 7 days from the day on which you first develop symptoms, or 7 days from the date of the positive test result. Self-isolation can be reduced to 5 days if you take a negative PCR or antigen test (supervised, not self-administered) on day 5 and you have not displayed any symptoms over the previous 48 hours. These isolation rules also apply to children under the age of 12, regardless of their vaccination status.
If you’re unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and you haven’t had COVID-19 in the last 4 months, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the day on which you first develop symptoms, or 10 days from the date of the positive test result. Self-isolation can be reduced to 7 days if you take a negative PCR or antigen test (supervised, not self-administered) on day 7 and you have not displayed any symptoms over the previous 48 hours.
You will have to extend your stay until the end of your isolation period. This could be in your current accommodation. The French authorities do not provide or pay for quarantine accommodation.
Further information is available on the TousAntiCovid application. The French health ministry also operates a dedicated coronavirus helpline on +33 (0)800 130 000.
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
From Monday 16 May, wearing masks on public transport is no longer compulsory. Wearing masks on public transport remains recommended, especially for vulnerable people.
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.
There are no internal travel restrictions in France; however, measures may change at short notice either at national or at local level. You should visit the French Government Coronavirus Information page or use the ‘TousAntiCovid’ digital app for further information and to stay up to date on restrictions
Public spaces and services
Face masks are mandatory in all health establishments (hospitals, clinics, retirement homes, nursing homes and assisted living, as well as establishments for people with disabilities).
Pass sanitaire (health pass)
The pass sanitaire is currently required to access the following places:
- Hospitals, clinics, social/medical health care establishments
- Retirement homes, nursing homes, independent and assisted-living residences
- Establishments for people with disabilities
You can find more information on requirements and how to access the “pass sanitaire” from the French Government.
You can get the pass sanitaire by fulfilling one of the following three criteria:
A vaccination certificate (see details on proof of vaccination below), or
A negative PCR or antigen result from a test taken within the last 24 hours, or
A document (dated more than 11 days ago and less than six months ago) proving you have recently recovered from COVID.
Children under 12 are exempt from ‘pass sanitaire’ requirements.
Proof of vaccination
The French Government recognises vaccination certificates that conform to EU norms. This means:
- 7 days after a third dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax for domestic use (to obtain a valid “health pass”), or
- 28 days after a second dose of Johnson & Johnson, or
- 7 days after a second injection for those able to demonstrate they have already been infected (this only applies to those vaccinated in France) for domestic use (to obtain a valid “vaccine pass”)
Since 15 February 2022, anyone aged over 18 years and 1 month needs to have received a booster dose within 4 months of the initial course (or after infection for those vaccinated in France) to be considered fully vaccinated for domestic purposes (i.e. to use the pass sanitaire). If the pass deactivates because you have not received a booster within 4 months of the initial course, you can reactivate it by receiving a booster dose.
France will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. 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.
Those vaccinated in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can also choose to scan and save the NHS QR code into France’s “TousAntiCovid” app.
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 testing in France
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, supervised COVID-19 tests remain free as long as you present a valid UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or the new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Travellers outside these circumstances will need to pay for a COVID-19 test. The minimum cost of supervised COVID-19 tests in France is €44 for PCR tests and €22 for rapid antigen tests. Self-administered rapid antigen tests can be purchased from pharmacies. The process for accessing these tests in France is via a list of places available from the French government website.
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.
How to obtain a French ‘pass sanitaire’
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, 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”.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
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.
P&O Ferries is experiencing disruption to their services. You should check P&O Ferries Updates for further details.
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.
There are currently large demonstrations in Corsica which have on occasion become violent. You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings, and follow any instructions from local police.
Avoid demonstrations wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities.
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.
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.
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.
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 UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September 2021 UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 your 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 has information on travelling to France. Check what you must do to return to the UK.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in France set and enforce entry rules.
All travellers should familiarise themselves with the entry rules for France before travel.
If you’re fully vaccinated
From 31 March 2022, fully vaccinated (see ‘Proof of vaccination status’ below) travellers from the UK aged 12 and over must provide proof of vaccination.
You may also be asked to complete the EU-PLF form before boarding.
Proof of vaccination status
France will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record at the border. The French Government recognises any vaccination certificates that conform to EU norms. This means your final dose must have been administered at least 7 days prior to travel for Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or 28 days after a second dose of Johnson & Johnson. 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.
For travellers aged 18 and over, France will recognise you as ‘vaccinated’ for entry purposes if you completed your initial vaccine course within the last 9 months. If more than 9 months have elapsed since your initial course, and you have not since received a booster, you will be considered unvaccinated and must follow the rules detailed below.
If your vaccine certificate shows a different name to your passport (e.g. marital / birth name), please also carry any supporting documentation (e.g. marriage certificate) when travelling.
Check our COVID-19 advice on things to consider, and be prepared to stay overseas longer than planned.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
From 31 March 2022, travellers from the UK aged 12 years and over who are not fully vaccinated need to provide:
- A negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours or an antigen test result taken within 48 hours pre-departure.
You may also be asked to complete the EU-PLF form before boarding.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to an-other country. You should arrange to take a private test from a private coronavirus testing provider. Test results must be certified by an approved private test provider to be accepted.
Children and young people
The French Ministry of the Interior website states that all children under 12 are exempt from all COVID-19 travel restrictions.
For travellers aged 12 to 18, please see the sections above for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers. In addition, depending on vaccination status and that of any accompanying adult, you may be required to provide other documentation. You should consult the full details on the French Embassy in the UK’s website.
If you’re transiting through France
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
Transiting through France is permitted for travellers from the UK in line with the entry requirements set out above.
HGV drivers from the UK entering France do not have to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination and do not have to quarantine.
Travel to France from other countries (except the UK – see above)
France has a colour-code system governing international travel to and from France. There are four categories: green, amber, red and ‘scarlet red’. For details on the entry restrictions for travel to or from France from other countries, you should check the status of the country and relevant restrictions on the French government’s website.
Entry to French Overseas Territories
On 12 May 2022, the French government announced restrictions on travel between France and many of its overseas territories would be relaxed. If you’re unvaccinated, you may no longer need a compelling reason for travel or proof of a negative COVID-19 test before travel. You should refer to the French Government’s website to check the measures in place in each territory.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are planning to travel to an EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.
Your passport must be:
- Issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
- valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)
You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.
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 are travelling to France for work, read the guidance on visas and permits.
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 should contact their local prefecture in France.
Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through France as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.
You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.
At French border control, you may need to:
- 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
For further information on these requirements, visit the French government’s website on travel conditions for British citizens.
If you are resident in France, read our Living in France guide for passport stamping information.
Travelling with children
From 15 January 2017, any child (under the age of 18) who is (a) living in France and (b) leav-ing 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.
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.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from France.
Returning to the UK
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).
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.
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.