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TRAVEL

Reader question: How can I get a ‘health passport’ for travel to and from France?

With travel opening up, it looks like the 'health pass' will be the key accessory for the vaccinated traveller this summer - but how do you get your hands on one?

Reader question: How can I get a 'health passport' for travel to and from France?
France is using its covid-tracker app to upload vaccination certificates. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

Question: I’ve had both doses of the vaccine and I plan to travel to France this summer. I read that I will need a vaccine passport, which I have no objection to, but how do I get hold of one of these?

This is a good question, the answer to which is still uncertain in some aspects. Here’s what we know:

June 6th

Announcing France’s timetable for reopening, president Emmanuel Macron said that June 6th would be the date that the ‘pass sanitaire‘ health passport would begin to be used in France, both for international travel and for access to large events like concerts and sports matches.

For anyone travelling before June 6th, the current rules apply.

Before that date, non-essential travel (including tourism, family visits and visits from second-home owners) is only allowed from certain countries – find the full list HERE.

If you are travelling from one of the exempt countries you will need to follow the rules on testing, even if you are fully vaccinated. France requires a negative Covid test, taken within the previous 72 hours and this must be a PCR test, the rapid-result antigen tests or home-test kits are not accepted.

You also need to fill out a travel declaration – find the forms HERE.

Bear in mind that your home country may also require testing and quarantine on your return.

Setting up the pass

So you might not be able to use the health pass before June 6th, but can you be getting ready to set it up?

For those in France, we do know how the pass will work – it will be via the Covid-tracking app TousAntiCovid.

You can download that now and go to the ‘wallet’ section and scan in vaccine certificates. People who get their vaccine from May 3rd onward will get an attestation de vaccination Covid-19 (vaccination certificate) with a QR code that can be scanned into the app.

People who were vaccinated earlier can get the code via their Ameli account from ‘the second half of May’.

The app also allows codes from test results to be scanned in.

For those not in France, it’s a little less clear. 

Firstly, countries outside the EU need to have bilateral agreements in place to recognise each others’ health passports and then there’s the technical aspect of making sure each country’s apps ‘talk’ to each other and accept codes from foreign vaccination certificates.

There’s also the issue of the EU ‘green pass’ health passport, which is also set to be launched in June. At this stage we don’t know whether this will be used in addition to the French one or instead of.

READ ALSO How will the EU’s ‘vaccine passport’ work?

This is all being talked about at a political level, and we will update our Travelling to France section as soon as we know more.

Which vaccines will be accepted?

The EU has said it will accept a certificate from any vaccine currently licensed for use in Europe, and it seems likely that France will do the same. Licensed for use in the EU are: Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (which is known as Janssen in some countries, including France).

The pass would not, for the moment, recognise the Russian Sputnik vaccine since that is not licensed for use by the European Medicines Agency.

The Chinese vaccine Sinovac is also currently not licenced, but is being reviewed by the EMA.

What about people who are not vaccinated?

Both the French and the EU passes have options to upload either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative test, while the EU one will also include an option for medical certificates for people who have recently recovered from Covid. So people who either cannot be vaccinated or don’t want to be will not be barred from travel.

What about people who don’t have a smartphone?

Both France and the EU have said that there will be paper options for people who cannot download the apps, but at the moment there are no details on how this will work.

Member comments

  1. As one of MANY Americans looking to enter the EU soon, we would appreciate the Local’s help in clarifying as soon as possible, what France and the EU intend to do to verify vaccinations. The US government does not keep vaccine records and has no intention of issuing a “certificate “. Americans receive a paper card when they are vaccinated. That record goes to each State. Other than New York, the states are not in process of developing certification. Will the EU accept paper cards ( which are easily forged) as proof of vaccinations?

  2. Please explain this last sentence of this paragraph: “don’t want to be?” does this mean that an American for instance can say ‘I am opposed to the vaccine so I won’t get it” and still be allowed in? How ridiculous is then to have a rule that only vaccinated people can come but have the loophole that people who refuse can’t be barred from entering?

    What about people who are not vaccinated?

    Both the French and the EU passes have options to upload either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative test, while the EU one will also include an option for medical certificates for people who have recently recovered from Covid. So people who either cannot be vaccinated or don’t want to be will not be barred from travel.

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For members

VISAS

Reader question: How does getting a French visa affect the 90-day rule?

If you're not an EU citizen and you're coming to France, you need to either get a visa or abide by the 90-day rule - but can you combine the two?

Reader question: How does getting a French visa affect the 90-day rule?

Question: I have a property in France and I’m looking at getting a six-month visitor visa so we can spend more time there since Brexit, but how does this work with the 90-day rule? Do we still use that rule for the rest of the year?

If you’re not a citizen of an EU country and you want to spend more than 90 days at a time in France, you will need a visa. This has always been the case for non-EU nationals such as Americans and Australians, but since Brexit it also applies to Brits.

Many British second-home owners who were previously accustomed to splitting their time equally been France and the UK now have to either limit their stay or get a visa.

We’ve got a complete guide to how the 90-day rule works HERE

And a step-by-step guide to getting a visa HERE

There are many different types of visa, but the one that many second-home owners have opted for is the 6-month visitor visa. This allows you to keep your main residency in your home country without having to worry about things like tax status, but enjoy lengthy visits to your French property.

But if you have a six-month visa, then what are the rules for the other six months of the year?

Essentially, having a visa suspends the 90-day rule when you are coming to France – so within the period of validity of your visa you can spend as much time in France as you like and you don’t need to worry about counting the days.

However it’s important to note that this is only the case for France – the 90-day rule covers the whole of the EU and Schengen zone, so if you make any trips to – for example – Germany or Spain during the period when your French visa is activated, those days still count towards your 90 day limit.

Once your visa has expired, you revert to the 90-day rule when it comes to trips to France, meaning that you can be here for 90 days out of every 180 but at the end of that period you must leave the Schengen zone.

This operates on a rolling calendar, so you always count back 180 days from the present date to see how many days you have spent in the EU in that period, and therefore how many you have left – if you’re confused, the online Schengen calculator HERE allows you to input your dates and work out your total. 

If you intend to roll your visa period directly into your 90 days you will need to leave the Schengen zone at least for one day, otherwise it will appear that you have overstayed your visa – you need to exit the EU, and then re-enter without a visa to allow your days to be correctly calculated.

Tax

And a quick note on tax. The 90-day rule and visa rules refer to your immigration status, but if you intend to spend up to nine months of the year in France, you need to also check your tax status both in France and in your home country to avoid breaching the rules on tax residency.

Immigration checks

Over the years France has earned itself a reputation as being one of the less strict countries in Europe when it comes to policing stays from visitors. However, Brexit appears to have changed this with many people reporting stricter border checks and some people being fined or having their passports stamped for over-staying their 90 days.

It’s likely that you won’t be checked every time you enter and leave, but if you are caught overstaying a visa or a 90-day limit, the penalties can be more severe than a simple fine. If your passport is stamped as an over-stayer it is likely to make future travel (anywhere in the EU, not just in France) more difficult, and you may also be rejected for future visas.

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