France may remove the COVID-19 testing option from its health pass ©Getty Images
France may remove the COVID-19 testing option from its health pass ©Getty Images

France considering tighter health pass rules in 2022

TripFalcon December 26, 2021

Last Update: 2021-12-26 21:50:49

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 within the past 24 hours. However, amid concerns over surging COVID-19 cases and new variants, the government is considering getting rid of the testing option and perhaps even the recovery option.

On December 23, French prime minister Jean Castex said the government wants a law passed that requires proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and public venues. It's likely that law could be passed in January 15 to coincide with the date when all adults will be eligible for booster shots.

For now, people can show proof of vaccination, a negative test, or proof of recovery to enter such venues. The health pass is required of anyone over the age of 12, including residents and tourists, and is expected to be in use until July 31, 2022.

Applying for the 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 visitors from elsewhere, including the US, Canada, and Australia, have to pay up to €36 to apply for a French health pass in designated pharmacies when they arrive in France.

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.

You'll need a health pass to sit indoors or out on the terrace at restaurants and cafes in France ©Getty Images

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 24 hours with either a PCR or antigen test.

Those vaccinated with Sinopharm or Sinovac can also apply for a French health pass if they have had a single booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

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.

The health pass is required at most at landmarks such as the Louvre ©NurPhoto/Getty Images

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 programyou 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, but as you can see from the map there aren't that many participating pharmacies spread out evenly across France.

When applying, you'll be asked to show your passport and 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.

QR codes in paper or digital format are scanned at entries to venues ©Hugo Pfeiffer/Icon Sport/Getty Images

Do I need a booster shot for a valid health pass?

French health secretary, Olivier Véran announced in November that the COVID vaccine booster shot program would open to all adults in France starting from January 15. He advised that people have up to seven months after their second dose to get their booster shot, otherwise they will no longer be considered fully vaccinated under the health pass system. This rule applies to French citizens and residents.

The situation for tourists has not yet been clarified. If you're traveling from an EU country and you are considered fully vaccinated under the EU digital cert program, you'll be able to continue to access venues with it. If you're traveling from elsewhere, the rules could change, but for now you should be fine provided you're up-to-date with your vaccine schedule. Lonely Planet has reached out to the French health ministry for further clarification.

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 24 hours (reduced from 72 hours as of November 29), 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