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Can tourists use France’s health passport to access museums, cafés and trains?

Can tourists use France's health passport to access museums, cafés and trains?
Photo: Eric Cabanis/AFP
This summer will see a major expansion of France's health passport scheme, with the pass needed to access a wide rage of sites including bars cafés, museums, tourist sites and coach or train travel - but how can people not resident in France access the passport?

The French pass sanitaire (heath passport) has been in use since June 9th, but at present is only used to access large events like concerts, sports matches and nightclubs.

However president Emmanuel Macron has announced that over the next month it will be greatly enlarged to include a number of everyday holiday activities such as going to cafés and restaurants, visiting museums and tourist sites and travelling on long-distance train or coach journeys.

In short, if you’re in France you are probably going to need it.

What is the health passport?

The health passport can show one of three things – vaccination status, a recent negative Covid test or recent recovery from Covid. You need to be able to prove one of these three things to access venues listed as requiring a health passport.

How does it work?

The passport is on the French Covid tracker app Tous Anti Covid. For people who were vaccinated in France this is pretty simple – you scan the QR code on your vaccination certificate into the app and that generates a code which you can use to access any location. For the full guide to how the app works, click HERE.

Likewise, people who got a Covid test in France can scan their result into the app, although the test result is only valid for 48 hours, so you will need to repeat this every two days if you want to rely on testing.

People who don’t have a smartphone can show the paper version of their vaccination or testing certificates to gain access.

What about tourists and visitors?

But if you’re only visiting France and had your vaccinations or tests in another country, things are a little more complicated.

The Tous Anti Covid app is available in the app store and works on non-French smartphones. If your phone settings are to English, the app will largely appear in English on your phone.

EU – If you had your vaccines or tests in the EU or Schengen zone, you should have a certificate with a QR code and thanks to the EU digital health pass scheme these can be recognised in France.

UK – The French government has confirmed that the NHS app or NHS vaccination certificate will be recognised in France as a health passport.

It is also now possible to upload your NHS Covid Pass to the Tous Anti Covid app – find out how to do this HERE –  or you can show either the NHS app or a printout of your UK vaccination certificate to access health passport venues.

Non-EU – If your certificate comes from outside the EU, then things could be a little more complicated as so far non-EU countries such as the USA and Canada are not aligned with the EU scheme.

However, people who arrive into France with a non-EU vaccination certificate can get this converted into a French certificate – with the necessary QR code so that it ca be scanned into the app. This can be done by any centre that administers vaccines and therefore has access to the national database, in practical terms the easiest place to access this would be a pharmacy.

Upon presentation of your vaccination certificate from your home country, the employee can input your data and then print out for you a vaccination certificate in the French format, you can then scan this code into the health passport app.

The French government has stated that conversions can already be done by these centres, but as the service is fairly new it s not yet certain whether all pharmacies will offer this. We will update this story when we know more.

When does it come into force?

From July 21st – required to access any cultural or leisure space that hosts more than 50 people, for example cinemas, theatres, art galleries, museums and large tourist sites. In addition to this it is required to access nightclubs and large events such as festivals or sports matches. 

From August 1st – required to access bars, cafés, restaurants, hospitals or nursing homes as a visitor, and shopping centres. People will also need the pass if travelling on a long-distance trip by rail or coach. 

Children

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the health passport requirement. For youngsters aged between 12 and 17 there is a ‘period of tolerance’ until August 30th, so under 18s won’t need the health passport until that date. The extension is to give French teenagers a change to get vaccinated – vaccination has been open to under 18s since June, but many French kids are not yet fully vaccinated.

After August 30th, all over 12s will be required to show the health passport, so families travelling from countries that are not yet vaccinating children will need to bear in mind the testing requirements.


Member comments

  1. What about children visiting who are under 18, will they have to be vaccinated to access these sites?

  2. Well, we were invited to come on over (from USA) to spend spend spend and here we are, spending. So please show us how to get on the passport so we can eat (and spend, of course).

  3. What is the definition of “shopping centre”? Our local LeClerc has a couple of other shops inside, but wouldn’t be called a shopping centre anywhere else, in France?

  4. We were going to France leaving today. Cancelled plans. Looks a right mess for people coming in from the US with our cute little CDC paper vaccination cards, or even the New York State Excelsior vaccination app. “C’est quoi ce machin?” I could already hear the words as we were refused entry here or there. Put plans off until end September when hopefully there is some mutual recognition between the systems. I cannot believer that my idiot French son and his wife are offering themselves the luxury of being not vaccinated sous prétexte of being cynical as to the benefits.

    1. Regarding the PassSanitaire, Americans cannot patch into that system with vaccines given in the USA. However, listed on gouvernement.fr there is a 24/7 COVID-19
      hotline 800 130 000 which I called and verified that we can present our official CDC cards and other official receipts received at the time of vaccinations showing dates and type of vaccine.
      I made this call on July 12, 2021

  5. Would you please give us more information about traveling back from France to US. My understanding the PCR tests are not free anymore for tourists ( although said earlier in June that it’s free). Since takes a while ( 2 days) to get test results and only for 72 hrs. How ahead we should plan to get it and where, and is it 49 Euro for each person including kids? For example we flying Monday early morning so it means at least Thursday ( it will expire 72 hrs) or Friday we should do the test? But on the weekends everything is closed, how do we get our test results on time? Thank you

    1. I returned to JFK yesterday, July 13, flying from CDG on AF 0006. US customs require a negative COVID test, whether you are fully vaccinated or not. The test may be PCR or the quicker and less expensive antigen test. By all means, get the antigen test, the results of which will land in your email inbox within 10-20 minutes. But be smart: get the test 72 hours ahead of time, do not rely on a fast turn-around. I had to to change my July 12th flight because an earlier PCR test did not arrive in time, and still has not arrived. Specific advice: if you are in Paris, do not waste time making an appointment for a test via a website such as the excellent doctolib. That’s what I did the first time, only to discover a huge line at the testing tent and no one paying attention to appointments. Instead, go directly to the soberly organized and reliable Pharmacie de la Place de la République, located at 5 place de la République. Go early in the day, though I had my test just as they were closing at 6PM. You will need to fill out a form on your mobile phone, and you will need to provide a Parisienne or french phone number. The form goes nuts if you try to put in an American phone number. The highly professional young nurse giving the tests in the outside tent confirmed that only a french phone number works well. It doesn’t matter whose number you use, she told me. ( I used the number of a friend. ) What matters is a reliable email address, to which results will be sent. Do not rely on SMS. You fill out the form, get the test, and go inside the pharmacie to pay for the test (29 euros). Then you give the receipt to the testing person and before I got to the metro, my results had been sent via email, in the form of a pdf that I got access to via a short step of confirming my email when a verification code was sent to my inbox. Notably, at the airport, no one said a word about COVID tests until the very last step of being checked at the gate right before boarding. At that time, I presented the pdf one my phone to a woman who expertly expanded the tiny text, checking she said for 3 things: my name, birthdate, and date of the test. An American woman in front of me was sent away in tears because she insisted that all she needed was her CDC card showing full vaccination. No. You need a negative test within 72 hours, PCR or antigen. Just know, that how you pay for it is more complicated that the test itself. My first efforts to get a PCR at the Pharmacie Anglaise , 62 Avenue des Champs Élysées, ended in having to download a new application for reading QRs, an application for paying the fee, and the scandalous charge of 75 euros for the test, with results never being sent. That’s why I urge you to go to a well organized testing site. Visit it the day beforehand. These testing sites operate on the weekends, many are open today on the National Holiday. Bon Courage!

      1. Thank you JaneBeverley, for the detail reply. Fortunately or unfortunately we are in the Coted’Azur area, and we will be jumping from one airport to another with two different countries before we will catch our plane to US. Hopefully, it will be smooth ride. We heard there is a special testing places near by, so we will be checking out next week. Thank you.

      2. Thank you for this very thorough info. Like emvail above, my family and I purchased the BinaxNow covid test kits from Abbott. https://www.abbott.com/corpnewsroom/diagnostics-testing/BinaxNOW-what-you-need-to-know.html These tests have received rave reviews, are easy to use and are definitely approved by the CDC (US). They are self administered and certified via the internet so there is no stressing about making an appointment or not having a test in time to board your flight. Hope this helps.

    2. I just got back from travelling all over Europe. I bought the Abbott Binax test that you take with you and perform the tests on a zoom call. My whole family has been using them SUPER easy. And we dont have to go around looking for test centers. I got them on emed.com.

  6. Will the CDC vaccination card (USA) be recognized as a legitimate document for cinemas, restaurants, stores?

    1. Regarding the PassSanitaire, Americans cannot patch into that system with vaccines given in the USA. However, listed on gouvernement.fr there is a 24/7 COVID-19
      hotline 0 800 130 000 which I called and verified that we can present our official CDC cards and other official receipts received at the time of vaccinations showing dates and type of vaccine.
      I made this call on July 12, 2021

  7. What a mess. I know several people who have just moved from the US or are about to. They’re fully vaccinated, and it will be many months before they have a Carte Vitale. This silly policy of announcing strict rules without considering obvious implications is giving people needless stress.

  8. Please update this article as to Americans traveling to France with their CDC cards. The US Embassy noted that we must walk into willing pharmacies and doctor’s offices, present our CDC card, and get the French health pass that way. Is that what is going to happen? I have not seen anything from the French government on this yet. Are there specific pharmacies that will perform this service?

  9. I live in Paris, but was vaccinated in the US. I went to a local pharmacy near Place de la République in Paris, and asked if they could provide an attestation with QR code. The pharmacist knew exactly what to do. She only needed the information from my CDC card and asked for my address. I asked, and you do not need a French social security number to receive it.

  10. Could you please provide more information on the exact steps a pharmacy should take to convert a CDC vaccination card to a pass sanitaire? I am in Côtes d’Armor, Brittany, and neither of the two pharmacies I went to (both of which administer vaccines and as helpful as they were) knew what to do. In other words, where in the database does the pharmacist find the page that will generate the pass sanitaire? Many thanks.

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