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HEALTH

How France’s Covid ‘health passport’ will work this summer

French MPs have - after initial hesitation - voted through a proposal to introduce 'health passports' in France this summer, both for travel and for some leisure activities. Here's what we know about how they will work.

How France's Covid 'health passport' will work this summer
The TousAntioCovid app. Photo: Damien MEYER / AFP

Detailing the phased reopening of France, president Emmanuel Macron stated that a pass sanitaire (health passport) would be needed for some activities from June.

IN DETAIL France’s calendar for reopening after Covid lockdown

Where can I find the pass?

The passport is already up and running on the French Covid-tracker app – TousAntiCovid.

The government has been clear that this pass is not just for people who have been vaccinated – you can use it to show that you have either;

  • been vaccinated
  • tested negative for Covid within 72 hours
  • recently recovered from Covid

TousAntiCovid now lets users upload either vaccination certificates or test results directly to their smartphone by scanning the QR code on the test result or vaccine certificate.

Both the quick antigen tests and PCR tests are included into this feature, which is called TousAntiCovid Carnet and is available in the ‘My wallet’ section of the app.

It looks like this on your smartphone:

Photo: TousAntiCovid

People who are being vaccinated now will be given a paper certificate at their appointment with a QR code, which can be scanned into the app. 

You can use the pass for entry once your vaccine certificate shows up as ‘complet’ in the app – for people who had Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca this is two weeks after their second dose, for Johnson & Johnson, four weeks after their first dose.

People who have already been vaccinated and didn’t get a certificate will be able to access it via their Ameli account from ‘the second half of May’. If you don’t have an Ameli account here’s how to set one up, and if you don’t have a carte vitale here is the recommendation of the health ministry.

If you have recently recovered from Covid you will need to upload a positive test result that is more than 15 days old, but less than six months old. This can be either a PCR or antigen test.

What can you use it for?

At present, nothing, but from June 9th it is set to have two uses – travel and leisure.

Travel

France is already trialling the pass on domestic flights and preparing to begin using it for some types of travel within the EU. The pass will eventually be used for all types of travel, not just flying.

When France reopens its borders fully to non-EU travellers from June 9th, the health passport – showing either a vaccine certificate, a recent negative test or a recent recovery from Covid – will be necessary to enter the country.

EU/Schengen zone travel

Health passports are set to be brought into use in June via the EU’s digital green pass.

This doesn’t involve a separate app though, the EU has asked all member states to create their own domestic pass, like the TousAntiCovid app, and these will all be ‘linked’ so that all apps from EU or Schengen zone countries can be read by all countries.

Having QR codes to scan will also eliminate the problem of certificates and test results being in different languages.

France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune told radio station Europe 1: “You will have the same code to go from Paris to Athens, from Berlin to Madrid.

“It will be recognised by the security and health authorities of different European countries. We are working on European coordination on a reopening of borders this summer to allow the safe resumption of the movement of people between European Union countries.”

A dry run is due to start involving more than a dozen EU countries including France and Spain, while a full rollout of the system in all member states is planned in June.

Non EU travel

This is the bit that is less certain, as either the EU or individual countries will have to negotiate with non-EU countries to ensure that they recognise each other’s health passports, and that the different apps can ‘communicate’ correctly.

EU leaders have said they intend to start talks with countries including the USA.

Not all non-EU countries are issuing vaccine certificates with QR codes that can be scanned.

Go to our travelling to France section for all the latest updates to and from France.

What about within France?

The health passport will also be required for access to certain leisure activities, including concerts or large gatherings. It will not be required for ‘everyday activities’ such as visiting cafés or shops.

What about people who don’t have a smartphone?

People will be able to present paper certificates with the appropriate QR codes for scanning by officials at the border or at the entrance to events like concerts.

Beaune added: “It will also be possible to cross European borders by presenting a negative PCR test less than 48 hours old or a certificate of recovery from Covid-19. The health pass is not an additional obligation but an additional opportunity.”

Is it obligatory?

A question that frequently arises in France is whether a vaccine passport would divide the country into two: one vaccinated part with access to several activities to which the other was shut out from.

The government hopes that including the option for a test can bridge this divide, but Macron said: “It cannot be compulsory for access to everyday places such as restaurants or for visiting friends.

“On the other hand, in places where large crowds gather, such as stadiums, festivals, fairs or exhibitions, it would be absurd not to use it.”

The issue was debated in the French parliament on Tuesday with the government suffering a scare when the health passports proposal was initially voted down, before being passed in a second late-night vote.

Member comments

  1. Any thought on how this will work for Americans who have been vaccinated? Will we likely be able to upload our vaccine cards (no QR code)?

    1. We have the same question. We are fully vaccinated from Bermuda and our vaccination certificates do not have WR codes either. We have contacted the French Consulate here in Bermuda and they have not been able to give us an answer either……….

  2. Boggy, it is absurd and reprehensible to compare being unable to access the occasional concert or exhibition to how Jewish people were forced to identify themselves before and during the genocide of the Holocaust. I really hope you’ll take this opportunity to read up and reflect on the realities of anti-Semitism.

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TRAVEL NEWS

France and Germany announce 60,000 free train tickets this summer

Young people across France and Germany may be able to benefit from free rail tickets this summer, part of a joint initiative to strengthen ties between the two countries.

France and Germany announce 60,000 free train tickets this summer

French and Germany transport ministers announced in a joint press release that 60,000 free train tickets would be made available to young people to help facilitate exchange between the two countries this summer.

The release did not specify the age restrictions, but the ‘young person’s railcard’ schemes in France are available to people under 26.

French and German transport ministers Clément Beaune and Volker Wissing announced that “60,000 tickets will be made available free of charge, according to terms and conditions which will be specified shortly”.

The scheme will be supported financially by both countries’ national rail service – SNCF for France, and Deutsche Bahn for Germany. French media reported that tickets will be allocated through a draw.

The goal of the free ticket plan, which is set to be put into place during the summer of 2023, is to encourage young people to travel between the two countries, and to build up more cultural exchange between France and Germany. 

It was announced to coincide with the 60th anniversary of France and Germany signing of the Élysée Treaty – which helped to build bilateral cooperation between the former adversaries.

The two heads of state – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, met in Paris on Sunday to mark the occasion.

READ MORE: France, Germany firm up ties as European ‘driving force’

Additionally, the German transport minister told French daily Libération that the project was also intended to fight against climate change, by incentivising rail travel. 

“The plan aims to achieve our climate objectives for the transport sector. We need to convince even more people to travel by train. To do this, we have to offer attractive offers,” Wissing said.

Germany has already announced other schemes to encourage rail travel, such as the implementation of the €49 monthly rail pass.

READ MORE: OPINION: Why Germany’s €49 travel ticket is far better than the previous €9 ticket

The French transport ministry also highlighted that the free ticket scheme is not the only rail service plan to better connect the two countries. The Paris to Berlin high speed TGV train is set to be launched in 2024, and by late 2023 (or early 2024) the night train connecting the two cities will make its return.

READ MORE: Planes, trains, and ferries: The new international travel routes from France in 2023

Travellers can also take advantage of other high-speed lines connecting the two countries, such as the high speed direct line that already connects Paris to Munich. 

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