Border Checks in Europe-Driving In/Out of France

Has anyone actually driven recently in Europe? Has anyone driven into France from Belgium or Germany? I’d love to drive up to Netherlands to see my son’s new home but I’m worried about getting back into France. Are there physical checkpoints at the Belgium/France border? Are there any checkpoints at all for motorists driving internationally within the EU? If so, what was your experience? There’s a lot of country-specific and conflicting information on thé web but I was kind of under the impression that borders within the EU are open? So how are country-specific regulations concerning Covid imposed? As an American on a long stay tourist visa, I’m ultra paranoid until I get a more permanent residence permit/Carte de Séjour in January. Thanks for any input!

For what it is worth, which is certainly not expert advice, but the first thing that struck me as being potentially a problem is being American, as there is a ban of Americans currently coming into many EU countries - for the obvious reason. That might be a hiccup if you got stopped for any reason at a border.
A bigger problem is the changing of rules, and different ones appearing almost every day. It would be easy to get caught up in a situation like that - American or not.
I would suggest it might be better to wait until you get your residence card before visiting your son, frustrating though it might seem. That would have greater weight than a tourist visa.
As I say this is NOT professional advice, just how I see things. I am sure there are others with a more informed view - as far as that will go with everything in flux.

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I feel your pain, I’ve not seen my 19 year old son since March when he left to visit Holland and his GF for 3 weeks! He is now working etc and we decided for safety that he shouldn’t come back on his planned trip last month (the GF has a pacemaker). Where abouts in Holland is yours? I agree with Norman, i think I’d rather not risk it until you have some EU paperwork in hand.

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We have had Belgium, German and Swiss visitors all summer. All by car, and they have not had a problem at the borders. In fact they all said that there were no border checks at all…The Germans said they had to fill in a form showing where they’d been as if they had visited red zones in France then had to show a negative test or self isolate. But no one asked for it. The Italian border is closed to people from southern France.

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I drove to Germany in June - after the border restrictions were lifted. There had been temporary check points at the ‘old’ (before Schengen) border posts. When I came through they had been dismantled. It will be the same if any country closes their border. But that will not happen without notification. You should have enough time to drive back from where ever in Europe you are.

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There are occasional “spot” checks on the main crossings, but quite simply most EU countries with internal borders with each other simply don’t have the resources to man all of the border points 24/7.

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You understand my dilemma completely!

Could your son visit you here in France? My son and his gf live in Amsterdam and came down on Thalys and Ouigo to visit us a month ago. They had no encounters whatsoever in either direction at the two Paris train stations or at Amsterdam Centraal. But as people have mentioned, the rules are constantly in flux and countries seem to be making them up as they go along, so who knows from day to day what to expect?

Interesting point.

He was due to the middle of August for 7-10 days. He was going to fly Rotterdam - Bergerac then I was going to drive him back with his gear. That was when we looked at the numbers starting to go right up, Belgium (which we’d have had to drive through) going red etc and he wasn’t happy having to fly twice. We just felt it too much risk to put Lindy (the GF with the pacemaker) under. He had his holidays booked and has no more this year and is looking at changing job so I’m guessing will be a wait on the next one!

Tory, this is kind of funny but as soon as they got home, Amsty son and gf bought 40 euro airline tickets for another visit here because the trains, including a 3-hour wait in Paris and 2 hour drive from Rennes, basically took all day. But maybe the train would be a better/faster option for your son and gf to get from Rotterdam to Bergerac? Just thinking for the future, which is super uncertain anyhow at the moment…

This is very true. i think that we wont’ see them until next summer tbh. Lindy now has a car and I think thye are planning to drive down. The plane is great - I think he is about 1.5 horus from the airport but then we are only 1/2 hour this end from Bergerac and Transavia is very cheap.

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I drove into Germany from France on 8.9.2020 and there were no border controls neither in Germany nor in France. But with the increase in Covid Border checks could be introduced. I avoided to go over hotspots like Paris and Straßburg, but used Saarbrücken w/o anything.
If you want to play it save, just stay in place and enjoy travelling, when covid is no longer a thread!
Sometimes brain has to take charge over heart and feelings!

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I think it would be more precise to say that the restrictions apply to people (of any nationality) coming from America, rather than it applying only to American citizens.
An American traveling to or from an EU country in which they are resident should not have any problem traveling within the EU.


Robert, as i stated clearly I am NOT an expert, but I suspect that neither are a lot of the people charged with applying varying and changing laws and restrictions. You could, maybe quite correct in what you’re saying legally - and to repeat I have no idea, and am not qualified to judge BUT on a sensible level,assuming that being an American or any other non-EU Nationality would give you automatic and free access to other EU countries on the basis of a Tourist Residency Card in these times of a pandemic seems a bit optimistic.
A lousy time to find out would be if the rules suddenly changed whilst you were en route- which has happened and people stuck. That was even difficult for people trying to return to their own home countries.
I have suggested that the risks could be there, nothing more than that - you are suggesting the opposite Fair enough, but I wouldn’t do it under the same circumstances.

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It’s the “American with a LS Tourist Visa” part that concerns me the most. It would surely suck to be told at any border that American tourists are not permitted, and then have to demonstrate I’m not coming from the US, but have been in France since before the pandemic, and am not tourist despite the fact that’s what my visa says.

By the way, I read on The Local that Americans are traveling to the U.K. and then getting into France, thus bypassing the mandate. How is that even possible???

Also, the restrictions regarding travel from the US are confusing. As I understand it, American tourists are not allowed entry at this time and people of any nationality, including French nationals, traveling into France from the US, must provide negative Covid test results before boarding the plane.

I asked a friend who has been doing some recent cross border driving, response below. Don’t think you’ll have a problem
“Our experience of driving over here recently is that there are no border controls when crossing from one country to another. When we drove over in August we drove through France and crossed in to Luxembourg with no problem. On the way back we took the route through Belgium, again no difficulty”.

“My cousin regularly drives (from UK) up to Denmark to visit family and also to Switzerland where her son lives so I think you should be fine driving to Holland and back to France.”

They are driving again on Tuesday UK-France, Belgium, Luxembourg. They’ll let me know if anything has changed


That would be great!!! Thanks!

Guests arrived last Saturday from Germany, no problems. And departing Belgiums texted to say they had got home with no problems either.

Seemingly it would appear that the French border control staff are not doing their job very thoroughly in that case.