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How French residents can claim back the costs of Covid tests taken abroad

How French residents can claim back the costs of Covid tests taken abroad
Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP
If you live in France Covid tests are free for all purposes, so it can come as a bit of shock when travelling to discover that other countries charge - sometimes more than €100 - for tests. But you could be able to claim a refund on these.

If you live in France and are registered within the French social security system, there is the option to claim back the cost of Covid tests – either PCR or antigen tests – taken abroad, however this doesn’t cover all countries.

In the EU or Schengen zone

If you’re travelling in the EU or the Schengen zone and you need a test for medical reasons – ie if you have symptoms or you are alerted as a contact case – this is reimbursed via European health insurance in the same way as any other medical procedure that you need while travelling.

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When having the test, hand over your CEAM (carte européenne d’assurance maladie – the French equivalent of the EHIC) and the cost will be reimbursed. The CEAM can be requested in advance of travel via Ameli, allow 15 days before your journey for the card to arrive.

If you need a test for non-medical reasons such as for returning to France (and if you are not vaccinated you will need a negative Covid test to get back into the country) this isn’t covered by CEAM. However you can claim a refund via Assurance maladie once you are back in France – you can do this via your online Ameli account or on paper by filling in form S3125 Soins reçus à l’étranger (care received abroad). You can also claim in this way if you don’t have a CEAM card.

READ ALSO Ameli – how to set up your online French social security account

The bad news, however, is that non-medical tests are only reimbursed to a maximum of €35, which is the calculated rate for the actual cost of the test and analysis.

Most EU countries do charge for Covid travel tests, and the cost can vary from around €30 to €200 depending on the country and the provider.

Non-EU

If you’re outside the EU, only tests that are for medical reasons – if you have symptoms or are alerted as a contact case – will be reimbursed.

CEAM cards only work in the EU or Schengen zone, so you claim the refund via Assurance maladie once you are back in France – you can do this via your online Ameli account or on paper by filling in form S3125 Soins reçus à l’étranger (care received abroad).

However, these are only reimbursed at a rate of 27 percent, up to a maximum of €35, which is the calculated rate for the actual cost of the test and analysis. Tests in many non-EU countries are considerably more expensive than this. 

If you need a test for a non-medical reason such as travel there is no reimbursement offered. Only fully vaccinated people who are travelling from green list countries (which includes New Zealand, the USA and Canada s well as the EU) do not need a test to enter France, unvaccinated people from green list countries and everyone from orange or red list countries needs a negative Covid test in order to enter France.

READ ALSO How does France’s traffic light travel system work?

Travel tests in the UK are not available on the NHS and cost an average of £120, according to Which?


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