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Can American visitors use vaccine passports for travel or leisure in France?

Can American visitors use vaccine passports for travel or leisure in France?
Photo: Pascal Pochard Casablanca/AFP
With travel from the USA and Canada to France opening up at long last, fully vaccinated Americans have been asking if they can access the French and European health passports. Here is the situation.

There are two ways you can benefit from fully vaccinated status in France (aside from the obvious benefit of being at much lower risk of death or serious illness from Covid): travel and access to leisure activities.

In vaccine certificate terms it’s where you were vaccinated that counts, not where you live or what passport you hold, so this article refers to anyone who received their vaccines in the USA.

Travel

Both the USA and Canada are on France green list for travel, which means all travellers can come for any reason, including tourism and family visits.

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Non-vaccinated travellers need to show a negative Covid test at the border, while vaccinated travellers need to show only proof of vaccination.

From July 1st, the EU’s digital vaccine passport scheme is up and running, allowing free travel within the EU and Schengen zone. Unfortunately, however, people vaccinated in the USA cannot currently access this (talks are apparently ongoing).

In the absence of a digital vaccine passport, it is still possible to show a vaccine certificate at the border – this needs to be a certificate from the issuing health authority that complies to EU or WHO standards – showing the person’s details, date of vaccination, type of vaccine used and a batch number.

This can be presented either on paper or in a digital format, but any QR codes issued by American States or health authorities cannot currently be scanned by French border officials.

Onward travel

If you’re planning to travel somewhere else after France, it’s worth noting that all EU countries have their own rules on travellers from the USA and they are not all the same, so check the rules in your destination country before setting off from France.

Leisure

Once you’re in France, you may also need to prove your vaccine status to access certain venues.

The domestic pass sanitaire (health pass) is not needed for cafés, shops, museums or most tourist sites, but is required for larger events and nightclubs.

Any event that has a crowd of more than 1,000 people requires a health pass to enter – including sports matches, festivals or concerts.

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You can access the pass via the French Covid tracker app – TousAntiCovid – which is available in the app store and is compatible with non-French smartphones.

It requires one of three things; a vaccination certificate, a recent negative Covid test or proof of recent recovery from Covid.

Unfortunately, however, non-EU vaccine certificates cannot be scanned into the app.

People vaccinated outside the EU therefore have a choice: take a Covid test in France and scan the result into the app or present a paper certificate of vaccination at the venue. Paper certificates are accepted, but it may take a little longer or involve going into a different queue if the venue organisers have an automated QR code scanning system in place.


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