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Reader question: Can foreigners in France get the Covid-19 vaccine?

As France rolls out its Covid-19 vaccination campaign, here's what non-French people need to know about getting the injection.

Reader question: Can foreigners in France get the Covid-19 vaccine?
A doctor administers a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Lille, northern France. Photo: AFP

Question: I am a non-French resident in France and I don’t yet have a carte vitale health insurance card. Is the Covid vaccine restricted to French citizens or can I still get vaccinated, and how much will it cost me?

What rights non-French residents in France have when it comes to getting vaccinated for Covid-19 has been a big question among the readers of The Local.

Firstly, there is no limit based on citizenship.

We contacted the French health ministry, who told us: “Everyone residing in France will be invited to get vaccinated according to the prioritisation of groups as outlined in the vaccination campaign.”

France has chosen a strict step-by-step vaccination scheme, placing vulnerable groups first in line to get the injection (more below).
 
What will it cost?

The vaccine will be free to everyone, even those who don’t have a carte vitale.

“Seeing as this is a public health issue, unregistered people as well as those in precarious situations [such as the homeless] can get vaccinated for free,” the health ministry said, referring to a government decree published on December 31st.

Everyone working or residing in France can get the vaccine for free, even if they aren’t registered in the French state health system.

This does not include tourists or second home owners.

What kind of documents should I bring?

There is no mention of whether or not the vaccine centres will demand a proof or residency or other documents. However we would advise non-EU residents to bring either a carte de séjour, the receipt acknowledging their application for a carte de séjour or utility bills.

EU citizens would to wise to bring their passports and a proof of address. 
 
Everyone – French or not – needs to take ID with them when they go to the vaccine centre.
 
Several readers of The Local have told us that not having a carte vitale caused a certain amount of confusion at the their local vaccine centre, because it is an unusual situation, but all of them received it in the end, one person after showing the French government decree linked to in this article.
 
When can I get it?
 
At present, the vaccination scheme is only open to over 75s and people in high risk group with serious health conditions, in addition to some priority groups – residents and staff in Ehpad nursing homes, health workers and emergency workers aged over 50.
 
Next on the priority list are 65-74 year-olds. They should be given access to the vaccine sometime in February, although the government has not yet set a date.

After that there is a strict order based on priority groups, with vaccines for the general population set to be rolled out out in the spring.

Over-75s and those in high risk groups may however already now book an appointment online, through the medical app Doctolib or call the government’s vaccine hotline.
 
 
 
 

Member comments

  1. A decree and a statement from the ministry is fine but I’m aware that the vaccination centre computer systems cannot accept people without a social security number, thus excluding those not in the health system. I hope this is a teething issue that is soon resolved.

  2. I just received the shot and I don’t have a carte vitale. I translated your article into French and handed it to the person checking me in and they took it. You do have to have an appointment or go to a pharmacy. Thanks to you, I have my first shot.

  3. If you are already registered with a generaliste/GP, I suggest ringing them to make an appointment. I got my RDV for 2 days later. Had my AZ vaccination without any problems. I’m still waiting on a Carte Vitale, so he couldn’t provide an official document to confirm I’d had my first shot ( a CV/Secu number is required), but hope to have this for my second vaccination in June.

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Do French police have the right to see my ID?

French police have some quite surprisingly wide-ranging powers that apply to everyone in France, whether resident or visitor.

Reader question: Do French police have the right to see my ID?

The Local subscribers in France are no doubt, responsible and law-abiding people – but, even so, it is very possible that they will find themselves in situations that involve contact with the police.

One reason for police to stop an ordinary civilian is for a contrôle d’identité (identity check). This is when a police officer stops to check your identity. 

This can only happen under certain conditions: 

  • the officer suspects you have committed or will commit a crime; 
  • you are in a ‘dangerous’ location where crime is known to occur; 
  • the public prosecutor has ordered a particular area to be watched; 
  • or you are operating a motorised vehicle (a contrôle routière).

If you’re driving, officers have the power to pull you over for an identity check – even if you were driving safely and within the speed limit – and a search of the vehicle and/or luggage may be carried out.

If you refuse to provide proof of identity, the police can find you guilty of refusing to obey or find you guilty of contempt and rebellion. Really.

READ ALSO ‘Don’t mess with French cops’ – Top tips for dealing with police in France

If you are not carrying any document that could prove your identity, the officer can take you to a police station to check your identity there. If this happens, the verification process must not last longer than four hours from the first request for ID – in Mayotte, this period is eight hours.

If you maintain your refusal to be identified, or if there is no other means of establishing your identity, the public prosecutor or the investigating judge may authorise the taking of fingerprints and photos.

Refusing to submit to fingerprinting or having a photograph taken is punishable by a fine of up to €3,750 and three months in prison.

Activists and NGOs argue that police practice racial profiling when they perform ID checks and it’s true that these ‘random’ checks seem to happen more frequently to people of colour.  

READ ALSO What to do if you are arrested in France

Non-French citizens who are resident in France may also have to prove their right to residency – a passport or residence permit is acceptable as, importantly, is the confirmation of anyone with you who is either a French citizen or legally resident in France.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: What are your legal rights as a foreigner in France?

In France, it is strongly recommended that you carry some form of ID at all times, just in case you are stopped by officials. In fact, no text obliges you to have an identity card but if you are subject to an identity check, the procedure will take longer if you cannot present an appropriate document.

French citizens have ID cards, but if you’re not French then a passport or residency card such as a carte de séjour are the most usual ways to prove ID. 

Equally, you may be required to prove your identity for any number of administrative reasons – which makes it easier to have some form of ID with you.

These include, for example, the following situations:

  • Examination or competition;
  • Registration at Pôle Emploi;
  • Registering on electoral rolls and voting in elections;
  • Certain banking operations (payment by cheque, withdrawal at the counter of your bank);
  • Picking up a parcel from the post office
  • A trip abroad
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