Coronavirus: your rights as travelers

Flight cancelled, trip shortened or postponed... The COVID-19 pandemic disrupts all our projects. What are your rights if you have booked a flight or accommodation? Who should you contact? Know your rights when traveling in times of coronavirus.

What are the conditions for entering France?

  • You are coming from a non-EU country

Any entry into France is prohibited except for compelling reasons of a "personal or family nature, health reasons of an emergency nature or professional reasons". If you have a compelling reason, you must :

- present a negative PCR test less than 72 hours before your departure,

- submit a sworn declaration that you have no symptoms of covid-19 infection, that you have not been, to your knowledge, in contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19 in the 14 days before travel and that you agree to self-isolate for 7 days upon arrival in France and then to do a second PCR test.

  • You are arriving from an EU country

You must present a negative PCR test within 72 hours except :

- if you live less than 30 km from a border and you travel outside France for less than 24 hours;

- if you are a frontier worker; 

- if you are a road haulier.

More information on the government website.

What are the conditions for leaving France?

Leaving France to travel to a country in the European Area (EU Member States, Andorra, the Holy See, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland) is strongly discouraged but there are no restrictions.

Any travel from France to a country outside the European space  is prohibited except for compelling reasons of a personal or family nature (death of a direct-line family member, participation in a university exchange programme, order to present oneself to a judicial or administrative authority...), health reasons (vital medical emergency) or professional reasons (missions indispensable for continuation of an economic activity, requiring a physical presence which cannot be postponed ...) or if you are travelling to your country of origin or residence

You will need to fill out and carry an exempted international travel certificate.

If your time of departure requires you to leave your place of residence during the curfew, you must carry an exempted movement certificate.

Your air passenger rights during the epidemic

If your air carrier canceled your flight due to the Coronavirus epidemic, without proposing a replacement flight, you are entitled to a refund of the full price of the ticket (see your rights in case of flight cancellation by the airline).

But you will not be able to demand additional compensation or damages because the cancellation is due to an exceptional event, unavoidable and external to the airline company.

Check your carrier's website for the status of your flight and the exceptional measures offered by the airline.

More information on your rights as Air passengers:

In case of questions or a crossborder complaint against an air carrier in the EU, Iceland, Norway or the UK, get in touch with the European Consumer Centre of your country of residence.

The carrier canceled your flight. Is the cancellation of other services booked separately automatic?

Please be aware that if you purchased tickets only, the cancellation of your flight does not cancel your hotel, rental car or any other service you booked separately.

Check the cancellation conditions for your reservations to find out what amounts could be refunded. Contact the hotel owner, the vehicle rental company, the owner of the accommodation to at least negotiate a postponement if there is no provision for reimbursement.

 

May I cancel the car I rented for my stay in France?

If you have booked through an intermediary, carefully check the general conditions of sale and the information included in your reservation / voucher. It is generally possible to cancel free of charge up to 48h or 72h before the scheduled rental date (note: each company has its own rules and different cancellation deadlines). Ask for cancellation by phone but above all in writing (email and/or contact or cancellation form provided for this purpose on the intermediary's website).

If the cancellation is made on time, you should get a refund for the prepayment made online.

If you have booked directly on the website of a rental agency, the same procedure applies: contact it in writing for a cancellation free of charge if you are on time. Otherwise try to negotiate a credit valid for a subsequent rental in any other agency of the brand.

Please note that in France, as in many Member states it has been decided that in case of cancellation of touristic services due to Coronavirus, companies may offer a voucher instead of a reimbursement. For further information, please contact the European Consumer Centre of your country of residence.

Coronavirus and accommodation: how to cancel the hotel you booked directly in France

Contact the French hotel owner and try to negotiate a refund. The hotel may offer you a postponement or credit note/voucher.

Indeed, the French government allowed traders in the tourism sector to propose vouchers to their customers for cancellations between March 1st and September 15th 2020. A corresponding ordinance has been published. The vouchers can have a validity of up to 18 months. If at the end of 18 months you have not used the voucher in full or partially, the trader needs to refund you.

The trader has to inform the customer within 30 days of the notification of the cancellations of the existence and modalities of the voucher.

And within 3 months of the notification the trader has to propose an alternative travel

  • identical or equivalent to the initial contract, including same price (only increases foreseen already in the initial contract can be applied)
  • if the customer wants or agrees to higher standards, he/she has to pay the difference
  • if a lower standard is offered, the consumer keeps the rest of the amount on the voucher. It can be used for another travel or be refunded at the end of the 18 months period.

How to cancel your reservation made on an online platform?

First contact the French hotel owner or the owner of the accommodation and try to negotiate a postponement of your stay or a credit note. Then contact the platform on which you made your reservation.

The intermediary platform can help you to facilitate the cancellation of the reservation with the hotel or the owner of an accommodation (cancellation free of charge, modification of your reservation ...).

But be aware, these online platforms remain intermediaries that connect a buyer and a seller so they have no obligation to refund the price of your reservation. Find out about the support and reimbursement policies implemented by the platform used for your reservation.

Please note that in France, as in many Member states it has been decided that in case of cancellation of touristic services due to Coronavirus, companies may offer a voucher instead of a reimbursement. For further information, please contact the European Consumer Centre of your country of residence.

Your package travel has been cancelled due to Coronavirus?

package travel means that you purchased at least 2 touristic services (flight + hotel for example) from a single trader in a single contract or separately, but from the same point of sale. A cruise is also a package travel.

For more information on package travel, watch our video

If the travel agency cancels your trip, you are in principle entitled either to an equivalent alternative trip (other destinations, other dates ...), or to reimbursement of the sums paid.

Please note that in March 2020, in France, as in many Member states, it has been decided that in case of cancellation of a package travel due to Coronavirus, agencies and/or tour operators may offer a voucher instead of a reimbursement. For further information, please contact the European Consumer Centre of your country of residence.

Good to know: following French government announcements on 29 January 2021 banning travel outside the EU, most French tour operators have suspended departures until mid-February 2021.

Travelling within France

The French government has announced the re-establishment of the curfew from 6pm to 6am. If your reservation is for a plane or a train running after 6pm, you will be able to travel without changing your ticket. In the event of a check, you will have to show your train ticket and a certificate.

Internal borders within the European area will remain open. However, many countries have put in place measures to reduce international travel. Consult the diplomatie.gouv.fr website (FR) for information by country.

More information on the measures taken in France in our article Coronavirus in France.