Does it matter if your French Covid vaccination certificate is in your maiden name?

Does it matter if your French Covid vaccination certificate is in your maiden name?
Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP
A number of women have contacted The Local to point out that their Covid-19 vaccination certificate - giving proof that they are fully protected against the virus - shows their maiden name, rather than their married one, concerned that it could affect travel plans in the immediate future.

It may seem odd to some Britons and Americans living here but the use of maiden names or birth names on official documentation is widespread in France and across the EU. 

While in countries including Ireland, Australia, the UK and the USA it’s common for women to change their name on their passports and driving licences when they get married, in France official documentation remains in the name you were born with.

Some documents, such as driving licences, can only be issued in your unmarried name.

When it comes to vaccine certificates, the Ameli website clearly states that “the certified vaccination certificate includes only the name at birth”. 

READ ALSO What’s in a name: How to fill out forms in France

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“This is the standard that will be adopted on the European vaccination certificate which will come into force on July 1st, 2021,” it added.

But will it be a problem to travel if your passport is in your married name and your vaccination certificate in your maiden name?

The Local called the French government’s Covid-19 hotline, where an operator suggested the differences in names was not such a big deal in this particular instance.

Border officials are, after all, used to dealing with newly married couples who may have different names on their tickets and passports.

The operator told The Local that a different name on the vaccine certificate and a passport, for example, would probably not hinder any travel plans, as the QR code on the vaccine certificate – the important bit – reveals very little personal data when it is scanned. 

READ ALSO How the EU’s vaccine passport scheme works

The European Commission website confirms that, given that the personal data contained in the certificates includes sensitive medical data, a very high level of data protection is ensured.

Certificates, it said ‘will only include the minimum amount of information that is necessary’, and that this information cannot be retained by other countries. 

“Only the validity and authenticity of the certificate is checked, by verifying who issued and signed it. During this process, no personal data is exchanged. All health data remains with the Member State that issued an EU Digital Covid Certificate,” it said in a Q&A page on its website.

The hotline operator suggested that people could try to change the name showing on their vaccination certificate, either by contacting their local CPAM office, or by visiting the vaccine centre, pharmacy or GP where they were inoculated, although this seems to go against Ameli’s policy on birth names.

In general, the advice when travelling with documentation in different names is to take with you an explanation of the difference – such as a marriage certificate – which you can produce in the unlikely event that you are challenged.

Member comments

  1. I recently travelled from France to the uk, I also took the test results which shows both names. We were also given a signed report when vaccinated that also shows both names on it, and also had my residency card showing both names. I had no issues to travel

    1. I’m glad that worked for you – I can do the same, which is encouraging. But we shouldn’t have to prove more than a man has to, even if we are lucky enough to be able to – it’s wrong.
      France badly misinterpreted the EU legislation on this pass, which calls for a ‘surname’. In several other European countries they have a word for that, but in French it is just ‘nom de famille’. Someone interpreted that to be the same as ‘nom de née’, but I believe that the intention of the EU was that it be ‘nom d’usage’. It’s an easy fix to give equality to probably at least 100,000 women legally resident in France, from the UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Austria and possible other countries where ‘nom d’usage’ is what shows on ID documents. France claims they are following ‘European usage’, but they aren’t – just French usage.

  2. I had this very problem! Though it’s not my married name I use now, my name changed when I was little when my mother remarried. Ameli weren’t very helpful so I’ve sent a letter to the CPAM with various documents explaining the difference so we’ll see if that works. The woman on the phone refused to see the issue saying that in France birth name appears on your passport etc, despite me insisting that this wasn’t the case in the UK!

  3. If only women didn’t have to change their names after marriage – problem solved!

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