For members


Your questions answered on France’s 4-month booster shot rule

Most people - including tourists and visitors - now need a booster shot in order to use the French vaccine pass. Here's how it works.

Your questions answered on France's 4-month booster shot rule
From Wednesday, access to the vaccine pass will be limited for people who have not had booster shots. Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

What changed?

On Wednesday, February 15th, booster shot rules were tightened up.

The vaccine pass was already required in France to access a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, ski lifts, tourist sites, gyms, leisure centres and long-distance buses or trains.

The pass initially required a booster after seven months, but on February 15th this fell to four months.

That means that anyone who has not already had a booster shot, and for whom their second vaccine dose was more than four months ago, is no longer eligible for the vaccine pass.

If you live in France, you can get a booster shot three months after your second dose.

Who needs a booster?

The deactivation concerns only those who have not had a booster shot.

If you have already had a booster your pass will remain active – even if you got your booster more than four months after your second dose. There is at present no requirement for a second booster shot.

Does this apply to tourists and visitors?

Yes, the booster shot rule applies to everyone, both French residents and people who are visiting France.

Boosters are not required to enter the country. At the border presentation of a certificate of full vaccination – in most cases two doses – is sufficient.

However, once you are in the country you need a vaccine pass if you intend to visit bars, cafés, ski lifts, cinemas, theatres, gyms, leisure centres, tourist sites, large events, sports matches or use long-distance trains, buses or domestic flights.

If you are visiting from outside France and have not had a booster shot and more than four months have passed since your second dose, you may not be able to access the vaccine pass, which will severely curtail your holiday activities.

What about children?

Children under the age of 12 do not need any type of pass.

Children aged between 12 and 15 need a health pass – which can use either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test.

Children aged between 16 and 18 need a vaccine pass, but do not need a booster.

Anyone aged 18 and over needs a vaccine pass with a booster.

Full details HERE.

What if I caught Covid before I could get the booster?

If you have recently had Covid, it’s possible to use a certificate of recovery instead of a booster shot.

The certificate lasts for four months after you had Covid, after that you will need a booster.

Full details on how to get the certificate HERE.

What if my country doesn’t offer a booster after four months?

Not all countries offer booster shots within four months of getting the second dose, with some people having to wait for up to six months until they are eligible.

The Local has raised this issue with the French government, but the answer appears to be ‘tough’ – not being eligible for a vaccine in your home country doesn’t mean that the French four-month limit does not apply.

The American Embassy has issued a travel warning over this issue, advising anyone travelling from the US to check carefully before departing that they will be eligible for the French vaccine pass, or face a severely constrained holiday.

Will my vaccination certificate be accepted in France?

If you were vaccinated in the EU, the Schengen zone or the UK, your vaccination certificate is compatible with the French system.

However if you were vaccinated in a non-EU/Schengen/UK country, you will need to convert your vaccination certificate to a French code once you arrive in France – here’s how.

Will my positive test result be accepted in France?

If you intend to rely on a recent Covid infection rather than a booster shot, check first whether your test result will be valid in France.

If you tested positive in the EU or Schengen zone and got a PCR or antigen test, then your test certificate will be accepted. Home test kit results are not accepted.

If you tested positive in the UK then PCR tests will be accepted, but not all types of Lateral Flow Test will – full details here.

If you tested positive in Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Cape Verde, El Salvador, the Faroe Islands, Georgia, Israel, Iceland, Lebanon, Lichtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Saint-Marino, Serbia, Singapour, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, Uruguay and Vatican City then your test result will be accepted, provided the results certificate has a QR code on it. The French government has created a platform here where you can check if your certificate is compatible with the French system.

Positive tests from countries not listed above will almost certainly not be accepted in France.

Full details HERE

What if I can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons?

In a small number of cases, vaccination is not possible for medical reasons. In this case you need a Certificat de contre-indicationfull details here on how to get that.

Can I get a booster while I am in France?

If your home country doesn’t offer boosters within the four-month limit, is it possible to come to France and get a booster here?

The French vaccination programme is intended for residents of France. It may be possible in some cases for tourists or visitors to get a booster shot while here, but our advice is that people should not rely on that if they intend to travel to France for a holiday. 

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For members


Reader question: Do non-EU children living in France need a DCEM document for travel abroad?

Adult non-EU citizens living in France know - or, at least, should know - that they should carry their titre de séjour as proof of residence whenever they travel abroad. But what about children?

Reader question: Do non-EU children living in France need a DCEM document for travel abroad?

Question: Since Brexit, we have our titres de séjour, but our children are under 18 so don’t have them. We have heard people talk about a DCEM for travel – is this compulsory?

Under current rules, children of non-EU residents living in France – including post-Brexit Britons – are not required to have a titre de séjour of their own.

But what about when it comes to travelling outside France, things can get complicated.

There is one document that parents of non-EU minors can apply for called the Document de Circulation pour étranger Mineur (DCEM).

“A foreign minor residing in France is not obliged to hold a residence permit. However, to facilitate their travel outside France, they can obtain a circulation document for foreign minors (DCEM),” reads the French government website.

The DCEM is not required for travel, but it can make things easier – especially for older children travelling on their own.

Plenty of reports suggest that even though non-EU minors are travelling with parents who can prove residency in France, it won’t spare them from being grilled at the border and having their passport stamped. But carrying a valid DCEM would spare all that.

If a non-EU child cannot show a DCEM with their passport, customs officials could stamp their passport on departure and arrival in France or the Schengen area.

This could – in theory – lead to more issues and questions by border police the next time they try to leave or enter France, especially if the two trips are more than 90 days apart, which could see the child classed as an ‘overstayer’.

As non-EU citizens British minors and their parents have also been advised to get the document, as one British father resident in France can attest.

The father who lives in south-west France, said he was told a DCEM was obligatory when he travelled to the UK with his teenage daughter in October for a brief visit.

“The visit was arranged in a hurry, because we’d just learned my father is terminally ill,” he said.

“We knew about the document, but had assurances from the préfecture that we could travel without it. But customs officials at the border handed me a note, with details about the DCEM, as we flew out, having checked my daughter’s passport for an earlier entry stamp, and said we really needed to have it,” he said.

“They also checked for a stamp on our return a few days later. When I said we would get a DCEM as soon as possible, we were allowed to continue, but my daughter’s passport was again stamped. We now have one for her, so future travel shouldn’t be a problem.”

One British mum living in Normandy reported that her 17-year-old son, travelling on his own, was detained and grilled by border guards at Caen when returning to France from a trip to the UK.

Natasha Alexander said: “He had on him his Carte Vitale, his school report, several attestations that he lived here, covid free etc, a facture/bill in my name, a copy of my passport, a copy of my Titre de Sejour. He was held for 45 minutes by douanes (customs) and told in no uncertain terms that he could not prove he lived in France.

“Despite telling them, in fluent French, that what else did he need to prove he was resident? He also did not have a Titre de Sejour because he was under 18 and did not need one. Eventually he was let through but not a pleasant experience.”

READ ALSO What happens if you overstay your 90-day limit in France?

How do I get a DCEM?

The child’s parent or legal guardian must apply for a DCEM in advance of any travel outside French borders. You can apply online HERE or at your departmental préfecture. 

Once received, this document lasts five years, or until the child in question reaches the age of 18, or until the parents’ right to reside in France ends.

You will need to supply a number of supporting documents, including:

  • Birth certificate of the applicant (parent or holder of parental authority);

  • Passport (or national identity card, consular identity card, etc.) of the applicant and the child;

  • Family record book or birth certificate showing the established filiation of the child;

  • Applicant’s valid residence permit (unless the applicant is European);

  • School or crèche certificate or any other document for young children that can prove habitual residence in France;

  • Proof of address in the name of the applicant if the minor resides with him, or in the name of the minor if he does not live with the applicant;

  • 2 photographs of the child;

  • Tax stamps (timbre fiscal) in the amount of €50 to be given at the time of delivery of the DCEM; (However an important difference for Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement is that DCEM’s can be issued for their children free of charge. More info here – Print this document.)

  • Form cerfa n°11203 completed, dated and signed by the applicant (the form can be completed online).

Plus, documents proving your parental or legal guardianship over the minor

  • Marriage certificate, or divorce documents for parents who were married at the time the child was born;

  • Birth certificate of the child mentioning the recognition of the minor before the age of one.

As always, any documents not in French will need to be translated.

READ ALSO How Brits in France can secure residency rights for their children