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Can I use a foreign vaccination certificate to access France’s health passport?

With France setting up its digital health passport, those who get vaccinated here can scan the QR code on their vaccine certificate straight into the passport app - but what about those vaccinated in other countries?

Can I use a foreign vaccination certificate to access France's health passport?
France's health passport TousAntiCovid. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

France has already set up its own domestic health passport, it’s on the country’s TousAntiCovid app and you can scan in either a vaccination certificate or a recent test result to create a QR code that operates as a passport.

You can find full find full details on how this works, how to get a certificate and how to scan the codes HERE.

It’s important to point out, though, that at present you can’t actually use the pass for anything and if you’re travelling internationally you have to follow the rules on testing and quarantine even if you are fully vaccinated.

From June 9th larger events like concerts will restart in France, and the health passport can be used to gain access to them, while for international travel the health passport is expected to be rolled out in June, with no definite start date yet.

But what happens if you were vaccinated outside France and therefore don’t have the certificate with the QR codes to scan?

Here it is likely to depend on where you were vaccinated.

EU

If you were vaccinated in an EU/Schengen zone country this will hopefully be relatively straightforward.

The EU is finalising details of its ‘digital green pass’ – while we don’t know exactly how this will work as yet, the principle is that each EU/Schengen zone country develops its own domestic app like TousAntiCovid (which most countries already have) and these can all be used to produce a QR code that can be scanned at any border within the Bloc.

As with the French app, the EU’s will accept either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative test, or proof of having recently recovered from Covid.

The advantage of having a QR code is that it eliminates the problems of vaccination/test certificates being in different languages.

France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune told radio station Europe 1: “You will have the same code to go from Paris to Athens, from Berlin to Madrid.

“It will be recognised by the security and health authorities of different European countries. We are working on European coordination on a reopening of borders this summer to allow the safe resumption of the movement of people between European Union countries.”

The pass is expected to come into use in June.

Non EU

If you were vaccinated in a non-EU country such as the UK, USA, Australia or Canada things might be a little more complicated as there are extra logistical problems.

The first is that the EU pass will only accept vaccine certificates from people who have received a dose of a vaccine licensed for use within the EU – at present these are Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen in some EU countries).

The second is that the EU and the non-EU country need to agree to recognise each other’s vaccination/test certificates.

The EU has already said it has opened talks with the USA, while the British press report that Thursday’s EU meeting will also discuss mutual recognition of UK/EU health passports (which will obviously be fine as UK/EU talks always go really well and never drag on for years with one party threatening war).

Then there’s the technical aspect – making sure all certificates can be scanned and the various apps ‘talk’ to each other correctly. Not all non-EU countries issue certificates with QR codes, although the UK has begun making vaccination certificates available via the NHS app.

For people who don’t have a scannable code on their certificate – or don’t have a smartphone – there will be the option to present paper certificates at the border.

This needs to be a proper vaccination certificate – that is, one that has your name and date of birth, dates when both doses were administered, as well as the name and batch number of the vaccine.

It should be issued by an official health authority in charge of vaccinations in a given country.

We’re not totally sure of the logistics around this at present, but as paper certificates will need to be examined by a person – not scanned into a machine – it could be that getting through border control with a paper certificate will be a more time-consuming process.

People who are resident in France but had vaccinations abroad will have to follow the same procedures as tourists or visitors from that country in terms of their health passport.

For the latest on travel rules in and out of France, head to our Travelling to France section.

Member comments

  1. thelocal might want to take an interest in the fact that three days after the legal restrictions on travel to France were lifted The Shuttle is still asking (requiring) travellers from Folkestone not only to certify in writing that they comply with the French Rules (as you would expect) but also that they have “good reasons” to travel, defined by reference to the UK law which has just been repealed. Now that the law has been repealed it is none of Eurotunnel’s business why I might want to go to France and since they have no legal obligation or basis to collect it they are breaking the Data Protection laws of the UK in collecting and storing it : I am not having any joy in getting Eurotunnel to change their illegal form, so you might want to ask them?

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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