France’s new vaccination certificates ‘first step’ towards health passport

People getting the Covid vaccine in France will now be issued with a certificate and a QR code which can be scanned into an app - the first stage towards the creation of the 'health pass' for travel and leisure.

France's new vaccination certificates 'first step' towards health passport
An airline employee in Paris scans the vaccination code of a passenger. Photo: Thibault Camus/AFP

Announcing the four-step process for lifting lockdown in France, president Emmanuel Macron outlined several steps – including travel from the USA – that would only be possible with a pass sanitaire or health passport.

IN DETAIL: France’s calendar for reopening from lockdown

The first step towards the creation of vaccine passports happened on Monday, when people receiving an injection began to be issued with an attestation de vaccination Covid-19 or vaccination certificate.

This example was posted by doctor and medical columnist Jimmy Mohammed, who added that his patients were “very happy, it’s a real official document, some even asked me if I could fill out the certificate for their spouse who was vaccinated last week”.

The certificate also comes with a QR code that can be scanned into France’s Covid tracker app TousAntiCovid and create a ‘vaccine pass’ that can be scanned on entrance to certain venues, or at the borders.

The app already has the facility to scan the results of Covid tests, creating a similar pass.

Thomas Fantôme, head of the health system Assurance maladie, said the new codes were “the vaccination brick of the future health pass”.

What about those who have already had their vaccine?

If you have already had your vaccine and didn’t get a certificate, these will be available “from the second half of May”, according to digital affairs minister Cedric O.

These will be available via your online Ameli account. If you don’t have already have an account you can visit and register using the details on your carte vitale.

READ ALSO Ameli: How to set up an online French social security account

The account can only be set up by people who are registered in the French social security system and have a carte vitale, however.

France is allowing vaccination of residents who do not yet have their carte vitale – full details on how that works HERE.

We asked the Health Ministry what the advice was for people who had already had their vaccine, but aren’t able to set up an Ameli account to get their vaccination certificate.

They told us: “This group are invited to contact the vaccination centre or the doctor/pharmacist who performed the injection to obtain a paper certificate of vaccination.”

So what can the health pass be used for?

At present, nothing, but it’s part of the plan for the wider opening up of France, with Macron tagging two particular activities that will require a health pass once they recommence in June – travel from non-EU countries including the USA and access to large events like concerts.

For domestic use, it’s envisaged that it will be used for events of more than 5,000 people – concerts, sports matches, large public meetings or festivals.

Ministers have already said it won’t be used for day-to-day activities such as going to the gym or a café.

People wanting to attend large events can download the app, scan either their vaccination certificate or a recent negative Covid test and generate the code, which can be scanned on the door by staff.

What about international travel?

This may be a little more complicated.

France has been trialling TousAntiCovid codes on internal flights but once international travel opens up there will be two issues – whether the various countries’ apps and vaccination certificates will ‘talk’ to each other correctly and allow scanning of certificates and what agreements countries have in place about health passports.

In parallel to France’s app, the EU is also working on its own app, the ‘digital green pass’, which it aims to launch in June. Like the French app, it will have options to upload either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative test, with a third option of a medical certificate for people who have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO How will the EU’s ‘Covid passport’ system work for tourists in Europe?

For non-EU countries, however, it’s more complicated and will require negotiation on the recognition of either France’s health pass or the EU’s pass, or both.

France’s transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri told LCI radio on Monday: “We are going to negotiate with partners, such as the Americans, bilateral agreements that will allow us to travel to each other’s countries.”

As a non-EU country, the UK will also need to negotiate either directly with France or with the EU for mutual recognition of vaccine passports.

When will be be available?

June 9th is the first date on France’s reopening calendar that involves the health pass, so it’s unlikely to be in use before then. The June 9th date can also be postponed if the health situation deteriorates.

Until then people who are able to travel to France will need to present at the border a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours – even if they are fully vaccinated.

READ ALSO Who can travel to France as the country reopens after lockdown?

What about people who don’t have a smartphone?

Digital affairs minister Cedric O has already said there will be the option for people to show paper certificates for leisure purposes in France.

The situation for international travel has currently not been confirmed.

Member comments

  1. Yes, we fall into the category of people who so far have received the first dose but we do not have the carte vitale. The Health Ministry should have made that clear in this announcement. Did they forget that there are people in France right now who don’t have the carte vitale AND who have been vaccinated?

  2. Surely, in the interests of inclusivity, the government won’t insist on a smart-phone-only health pass? There are significant numbers of people in France who do not have and do not want/need a smart phone. It would be somewhat diiscriminatory to follow this particualr path alone.

  3. I fall in between two countries. I had my first Pfizer vaccination in the U.K. in February and then my second here in france. Sadly, the certificate I received states that I have only had one vaccination and ignored the U.K. jab. I do not yet have a carte vitale either.

  4. I got my second shot on Monday morning and got a certificate of vaccination but not the one with QR code. And I do not have a carte vitale. I hope the process for those with no carte vitale getting the QR code certificate when it is announced is not only for those vaccinated before May 3.

  5. I had my second BioNTec/Pfizer jab yesterday & sure enough, I received my certificate complete with QR code.

    For those without a smartphone, where necessary a paper version of it is perfectly acceptable.

  6. I got my 1st vaccine a couple of weeks ago. Since I caught COVID last December my french Doctor told me I just need one dose and then he printed me a certificate which I scanned into my TousAntiCovid App.
    I don’t have a carte vitale but somehow my doctor found me in the system and printed my certificate.

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What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

Several French unions have filed strike notices for February, with some aiming to target to busy February holiday period - here's what you can expect.

What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

France is in the grip of a major confrontation between unions and the government over plans to reform the pension system.

So far, the main actions have been concentrated on one-day strikes that are supported by all eight of the union federations, however an increasing number of unions are filing notices for renewable or unlimited strikes, with some targeting the February holidays.

The French minister of tourism, Olivia Gregoire, called on unions to respect the “sacred period” of school holidays (which in France run from February 4th to March 6th, depending on which zone you are in).

Meanwhile, Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, told RTL that if the government remains stubborn then “there is a possibility of days of action during the school vacations”.

As a result, it is likely that further notices will be filed.  The Local will update this story with the latest – but here’s what we know so far.

January actions

Tuesday, January 31st – this is the next one-day mass strike, which will likely see severe disruption on many services, particularly public transport – full details here.

February actions

Trains – two rail unions – the hardline Sud-Rail and CGT-Cheminots – have filed a renewable strike notice for “mid-February” in addition to a two-day strike which is to take place on Tuesday, February 7th, and Wednesday, and 8th. 

READ MORE: Calendar: The French pension strike dates to remember

Ski resorts – two of the largest unions representing French ski lift operators and seasonal workers, FO (Force ouvrière) and the CGT, have filed “unlimited” strike notices starting on January 31st – the same day that unions across other sectors have called for another ‘mass strike’.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the strike will continue throughout February, but unions say they want to put pressure on the government to discuss both pensions and changes to benefits for seasonal workers, which particularly affect ski industry employees.

The CGT union in particular has threatened further actions during the Ski World Championships, held in Courchevel from February 6th to February 19th. Strikes in ski resorts usually primarily affect the operation of ski lifts. You can read more here.

Oil refinery workers – refinery workers have threatened to strike for a period of 72 hours beginning on February 6th. 

The national union coordinator for French oil giant, TotalEnergies, Eric Sellini, told AFP that these actions would result in “lower throughput” and “the stoppage of shipments.”

The most concrete effect of this is likely to be shortages of petrol and diesel at some filling stations if the blockades are successful in stopping supplies leaving the refineries.

Power cuts – the hardline CGT have also threatened more “direct action” with employees of the State electricity sector threatening to cut the power to certain towns. This isn’t a scheduled action (or indeed a legal one, the government has promised to prosecute workers who do this) but short targeted power cuts could continue into February.

UK border – finally, if you are travelling to or from the UK, be aware that a UK Border Force strike is planned for February 1st and 2nd, which is likely to increase waiting times at the border.

We will update this story as more details are released, and you can also find all the latest in our strike section HERE.