[Article updated February 16 at 08:30]
France’s health pass system was converted to a vaccine pass system on Monday (January 24), meaning that it is now no longer possible to use a Covid test result from the last 24 hours to gain entry into a range of leisure-orientated public spaces.
The health pass does still exist but only for a limited number of situations mainly related to healthcare or situations like visiting a retirement home. No pass of any type is required in the case of a medical emergency.
With the introduction of the vaccine pass, the only accepted proofs of Covid status are vaccination records and certificates of recovery from the virus within the last six months.
However, certificates of recovery can only be used if they are from a country which uses the correct format. This does not include the US, as we explain further below.
The venues subject to vaccine pass requirements include: restaurants, bars, cafés, museums, ski lifts, theme parks and long-distance transports such as TGV trains and domestic flights.
People not classed as being fully vaccinated can however travel using these transports if they have a compelling family or health-related reason, although they must present a negative test result from the last 24 hours unless it is an emergency.
If you are visiting France from abroad you will most likely need to use a vaccine pass at some point during your stay.
Vaccine passes are required for all over 16s; 12 to 15-year-olds can continue to use a health pass, meaning that they can prevent negative test results from the last 24 hours in order to enter venues. Children under 12 years and two months do not need a pass.
It should be noted that you do not need to have had a booster vaccine dose in order to travel to France, and American CDC vaccine cards are commonly accepted by airlines. It is only once you are in France that a booster dose may become necessary so as to access venues such as restaurants and cafes.
What counts as fully vaccinated for the vaccine pass?
For the initial creation of a vaccine pass, people are considered as being fully vaccinated seven days after their second dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca/Covishield or four weeks after their first dose of the single-dose Janssen jab.
However, there are deadlines with regards to booster doses - and these apply both to residents and tourists.
If you received a two-dose vaccine you currently have seven months after your second dose in which to receive a booster before your certificates are no longer able to create a pass or your pass expires (if you already have one).
People who had the Janssen vaccine have two months after their one and only dose in which to get their booster.
However, from February 15, the deadline for receiving a booster will be shortened to four months after the second dose for people aged over 18 years and one month.
Teenagers aged between 16 and 18 do not need to worry about having a booster.
The booster dose deadline could pose problems for some Americans, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wait at least five months after their second dose before going for their third.
Despite the difficulties that this rule could pose, the US embassy states that: “These rules apply to everyone, residents and tourists alike.
“There is NO alternative to present a negative test for the vaccine pass. While recovery from Covid can take the place of one of the initial doses or, in some cases, the booster dose, this only applies if this occurred in the EU.
“U.S. and other foreign certificates of recovery are not accepted.” So, it will not be possible to convert certificates of recovery into vaccine pass QR codes if you are coming from the US, or any other country whose certificates are not already in the correct format.
Just over 40% of vaccinated Americans have had a booster dose, a figure which will have risen further by February 15, and the booster dose rule will not be an issue for them.
Booster doses can be used for vaccine pass proof from seven days after injection.
How do I create a vaccine pass?
People who were vaccinated in the US must convert their vaccination certificate to a QR code or take regular, payable Covid tests in order to obtain a French health pass.
This applies to tourists arriving in France from outside the EU, the UK, Albania, Armenia Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Morocco, Monaco, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine or the Vatican.
These countries have vaccination documentation containing QR codes compatible with the French system.
Non-EU or equivalent visitors to France must visit one in a list of pharmacies with their passports and vaccination documents in order to convert them to a QR code compatible with France’s TousAntiCovid health and vaccine pass app. This will come at a cost of up to €36 per conversion.
The vaccination certificate must be in its original paper form and contain the person’s full name, date of birth, vaccination date(s), the vaccine used (and batch number if possible), the number of doses and the country in which they were received.
The pharmacist will then convert the documents into a QR code which can be scanned or downloaded onto France’s TousAntiCovid health pass app, where it can be kept indefinitely.