When can residents in France be reimbursed for Covid-19 tests abroad?

When can residents in France be reimbursed for Covid-19 tests abroad?
Taking a PCR test in some countries can be expensive. Photo: Bertrand Guay | AFP
Covid-19 tests in France are free for everyone, but anyone wanting to travel is quickly finding that having a test in another country can cost well over €100.

In some cases, however, it is possible to have at least some of that cost refunded. Here is what you need to know if you return to France from a country that requires you to show a negative Covid-19 test on arrival.

Depending on the country you have visited, you may be required to return a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before travel – which can quickly become expensive if that country does not subsidise the cost for foreigners. 

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Some of the cost can be recouped, but only in certain circumstances, and only if you are registered on the French social security system.

If the test is carried out in an EU / EEA  country, or in Switzerland, it is covered by the health insurance system only if it is an “immediately necessary test”, as explained on the Ameli website. It is then necessary to present the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic or CEAM in French) when the test is carried out.

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If you do not have an Ehic, you will have to complete an online form on your return in order to be reimbursed.

For anyone returning to France from outside the EU, “only tests of a medical, urgent and unexpected nature will be reimbursed up to 27 percent of the cost, to a maximum of €35,” according to the site.

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But there is bad news for holidaymakers. Health Minister Olivier Véran has said that non-essential travel, such as holidays, will not be eligible for reimbursement for any PCR tests.

“Antigenic or PCR tests taken by French people wishing to return to France will not be covered by the Health Insurance,” he said in Le Parisien

“With regard to administrative procedures, such as the possibility of taking a plane, it is not planned at this stage that this will be paid for.”

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As such, PCR tests to return to France after a holiday are not covered – unless there is ‘a medical, urgent and unexpected reason’, which would include, for example, showing symptoms of Covid-19.

From July 1, the EU-wide Covid certificate will mean only those who are not fully protected against Covid-19 will be required to show a negative PCR test for travel within the bloc.

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