Most tourists from outside the EU now have to pay to covert their vaccine certificates into the French health pass system ©Getty Images
Most tourists from outside the EU now have to pay to covert their vaccine certificates into the French health pass system ©Getty Images

France changes its health pass system again and some tourists now have to pay to apply

TripFalcon November 12, 2021

Last Update: 2024-01-03 19:11:13

Travelers visiting France from outside the European Union, including American tourists, will now have to pay a fee to convert their vaccination certificates into French health passes that can be used to get into restaurants, cafes and museums.

Most tourists who were vaccinated outside of the EU are now required to pay €36 to apply for a French health pass, and they'll have to apply for it in designated pharmacies across France, rather than through the now defunct online system. The news comes as the French government agreed on Friday to extend the use of the health pass until July 31, 2022.

The health pass is compulsory across many places in France and indicates the holder is vaccinated against COVID-19, has recovered, or has tested negative for it. It's required of residents and tourists, and was extended to children over the age of 12 in September.

Applying for this health pass is a pretty straightforward process if you're a French citizen or a tourist visiting France who was vaccinated in a country signed up to the EU digital COVID certificate program. Visitors from the UK also have a relatively uncomplicated way of presenting proof through their NHS vaccination certificates. But since its inception, visitors from elsewhere have reported difficulty in obtaining a compatible vaccination pass. A temporary application program was introduced this summer before an online system opened to non-European foreign nationals in September, only to be replaced by the pharmacy route last week.
If you're traveling to France, here's a guide to understanding what the health pass is, where you need to present it, and how you can apply for it—wherever you're traveling from.

What is the health pass?
The pass sanitaire (health pass) indicates that the holder has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (in France that means one week after the final dose of a Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Covishield vaccine course or 28 days after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine), or has tested negative in the past 72 hours with either a PCR or antigen test.

Where do I need to present it?
It came into effect on July 21, 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, the health pass 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. As of September 30, it's required of anyone over the age of 12.

French citizens can upload their vaccination or testing status to the ToutsAntiCovid app, or apply for a paper version with a QR code.

How can tourists apply for the health 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 or testing 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 now 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.

When applying, you'll be asked to show your official vaccination certificate (CDC card). 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.

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, your testing status is only valid for 72 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.

Source: lonelyplanet