If you’re traveling to France, here’s a guide to understanding what the health and vaccine passes are, where you need to present them, and how you can apply for them—wherever you’re traveling from.
France has tightened the rules of its vaccine pass (pass vaccinal) again. The pass initially required that people get a booster shot no more than seven months after their second vaccine dose to keep the pass active. That timeframe has been reduced to four months as of February 15.
This rule also applies to tourists visiting France. While they don’t need a booster to enter the country, they will need one to access venues where the pass is required.
The rule applies to anyone over the age of 18. Teenagers aged 12-17 can continue to use their pass without a booster.
The passes are compulsory across many places in France (there’s little you can do without one). They can be presented on smartphones or in paper format with a QR code that is scanned upon entry.
Trying to get your head around the rules of the COVID passes in France can be confusing as the rules are constantly in flux. Here’s a guide to understanding the latest rules and how they apply to visitors.
What is the difference between a health and vaccine pass?
The vaccine pass (pass vaccinal) indicates that the holder has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and applies to anyone over the age of 16. However, people over the age of 18 must now have a booster shot to keep their pass active. In France, that means they must get their booster no more than four months after receiving the second dose of an AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or no more than two months after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Tourists will need to show proof of a booster shot if they are over the age of 18 to enter venues where the vaccine pass is required.
The health pass (pass sanitaire) applies for people aged between 12 and 15 and is either proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test (taken within 24 hours prior).
The passes are not required of children under the age of 12.
Do I need a health or vaccine pass to enter France?
No, the pass is only used to access domestic services and venues in France. “[The pass] does not apply in the contect of heath control at the borders,” a spokesperson for the Health Ministry told Lonely Planet. The documentation you need to enter France during the pandemic varies depending on where you are coming from. You can learn more about what’s required in CheckMyTrip, you can check the COVID-19 travel restrictions for your origin and destination as part of your travel itinerary or directly in the app, in case you don’t have a trip planned yet.
Once you’re in France, you’ll need to have the pass as it’s almost impossible to do anything without it.
Read more: 2 weeks in France
How can tourists apply for the health and vaccine pass?
If you’re traveling from the EU or any country signed up to the EU digital COVID cert program, you can present your digital COVID-19 certificate or any approved European health certificate that documents your vaccination and booster status. The French embassy in Germany confirms that if the certificate issued to you appears with a European flag, your certificate is compatible and “will be recognised during [checks] in France in the same way as French certificates.”
If you’re traveling from the UK, the French government confirmed that people vaccinated in the UK can now import their NHS QR code into the TousAntiCovid app. They can also present a digital or paper NHS certificate showing their full vaccine status as it’s recognized by the EU’s digital COVID certificate system.
If you’re traveling from the US you must apply in person through a dedicated pharmacy in France when you arrive in the country. You’ll be required to pay a fee of up to €36 (about US$44) for the service. However, it’s important to note that not all pharmacies offer this service. You might find one easily in cities such as Paris, but as you can see from this map there aren’t that many participating pharmacies spread out evenly across France.
When applying, you’ll be asked to show your passport and official vaccination certificate (CDC card) with your booster shot information. The pharmacist will convert the details from that certificate into the French system and provide you with a QR code that can be scanned at venues where the health pass is required.
In the meantime, a number of tourist sites are accepting the CDC vaccination card from American visitors. The Palace of Versailles confirmed to Lonely Planet that Americans are permitted to show their CDC vaccination certificate for entry, and it has been reported that the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are allowing it too but it is not generally accepted otherwise as a health pass.
If you’re traveling from elsewhere, follow the same process that applies to American tourists.
French citizens can upload their vaccination or testing status to the ToutsAntiCovid app, or apply for a paper version with a QR code.
Where do I need to present it?
The pass into effect last July, granting the holder access to any leisure or cultural venue across France with a capacity of more than 50 people, including museums, galleries, theaters, cinemas, concert halls, exhibition spaces, nightclubs, discos, zoos, open-air festivals, sporting venues, theme parks, libraries, swimming pools, and tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower.
In August, it was extended to restaurants, cafes and bars (both indoors and outdoors), long-distance trains and coaches, domestic flights, hospitals, nursing homes, and large shopping malls.
Can I get a vaccine pass if I have recently recovered from COVID-19?
The vaccine pass also indicates the holder has recently recovered from COVID-19 (or has a medical exemption from vaccines). If you tested positive for COVID in the EU, UK or Schengen Area country then you can upload your positive test to the EU digital COVID cert app. The test must be more than 11 days old but less than six months old.
If you tested positive for COVID outside the EU, in countries such as the US, Canada or Australia, for example, you could run into difficulties. You can see what options may be available to you through the Health Ministry website.
Where can I get tested in France?
Testing is widely available in France in most pharmacies and medical facilities but you’ll generally need to make an appointment in advance. Most pharmacies can do antigen tests for about €25, and PCR tests can cost about €45. When using the health pass as an unvaccinated person or without a booster, your testing status is only valid for 24 hours, which means you’ll need to be regularly tested to enter venues. You can find testing locations near you through the COVID testing map.
Sources Lonely Planet
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