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Can tourists use France’s health passport to access museums, cafés and trains?

Can tourists use France's health passport to access museums, cafés and trains?
Photo: Eric Cabanis/AFP
This summer will see a major expansion of France's health passport scheme, with the pass needed to access a wide rage of sites including bars cafés, museums, tourist sites and coach or train travel - but how can people not resident in France access the passport?

The French pass sanitaire (heath passport) has been in use since June 9th, but at present is only used to access large events like concerts, sports matches and nightclubs.

However president Emmanuel Macron has announced that over the next month it will be greatly enlarged to include a number of everyday holiday activities such as going to cafés and restaurants, visiting museums and tourist sites and travelling on long-distance train or coach journeys.

In short, if you’re in France you are probably going to need it.

What is the health passport?

The health passport can show one of three things – vaccination status, a recent negative Covid test or recent recovery from Covid. You need to be able to prove one of these three things to access venues listed as requiring a health passport.

How does it work?

The passport is on the French Covid tracker app Tous Anti Covid. For people who were vaccinated in France this is pretty simple – you scan the QR code on your vaccination certificate into the app and that generates a code which you can use to access any location. For the full guide to how the app works, click HERE.

Likewise, people who got a Covid test in France can scan their result into the app, although the test result is only valid for 48 hours, so you will need to repeat this every two days if you want to rely on testing.

People who don’t have a smartphone can show the paper version of their vaccination or testing certificates to gain access.

What about tourists and visitors?

But if you’re only visiting France and had your vaccinations or tests in another country, things are a little more complicated.

The Tous Anti Covid app is available in the app store and works on non-French smartphones. If your phone settings are to English, the app will largely appear in English on your phone.

EU – If you had your vaccines or tests in the EU or Schengen zone, you should have a certificate with a QR code and thanks to the EU digital health pass scheme these can be recognised by venues in France.

UK – The French government has confirmed that the NHS app or NHS vaccination certificate will be recognised in France as a health passport.

It is also now possible to upload your NHS Covid Pass to the Tous Anti Covid app – find out how to do this HERE.

However, the website of the French embassy in London states: “The NHS QR code is not yet recognised by the application ‘TousAntiCovid verif’ used to verify the validity of the QR code. You will therefore need to present an NHS proof of vaccination.”

TousAntiCovid verif is the app used by venues to scan QR codes from the health pass app.

For the time being, visitors from the UK are therefore advised to either present proof via the NHS app or a printout of their UK vaccination certificate to access health passport venues. Travellers vaccinated in the UK are also being told to call 119 and requesting a vaccination letter that they can use to prove their status. They could also try and get a French Covid certificate bvy asking a health professional such as a pharmacist (see below).

However, some of The Local’s readers have reported being refused entry despite showing this document. This appears to be mainly down to staff working at entry points not being aware of the rules.

The Local has requested information from French authorities on when and if the TousAntiCovid vérif app will eventually work with NHS QR codes.

Non-EU – If your certificate comes from outside the EU, then things could be a little more complicated as so far non-EU countries such as the USA and Canada are not aligned with the EU scheme.

However, people who arrive into France with a non-EU vaccination certificate can get this converted into a French certificate – with the necessary QR code so that it ca be scanned into the app. This can be done by any centre that administers vaccines and therefore has access to the national database, in practical terms the easiest place to access this would be a pharmacy.

Upon presentation of your vaccination certificate from your home country, the employee can input your data and then print out for you a vaccination certificate in the French format, you can then scan this code into the health passport app.

The French government has stated that conversions can already be done by these centres, but as the service is fairly new it’s not yet certain whether all pharmacies will offer this. We will update this story when we know more. Note that UK visitors can also try this with their NHS vaccine certificates, but again it’s no guaranteed it will work.

When does it come into force?

From July 21st – required to access any cultural or leisure space that hosts more than 50 people, for example cinemas, theatres, art galleries, museums and large tourist sites. In addition to this it is required to access nightclubs and large events such as festivals or sports matches. 

From August 9th – required to access bars, cafés, restaurants, hospitals or nursing homes as a visitor, and certain shopping centres. People will also need the pass if travelling on a long-distance trip by rail or coach. 

Children

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the health passport requirement. For youngsters aged between 12 and 17 there is a ‘period of tolerance’ until September 30th, so under 18s won’t need the health passport until that date. The extension is to give French teenagers a change to get vaccinated – vaccination has been open to under 18s since June, but many French kids are not yet fully vaccinated.

After September 30th, all over 12s will be required to show the health passport, so families travelling from countries that are not yet vaccinating children will need to bear in mind the testing requirements.


Member comments

  1. Had same problem as PennCarol with 2 in Brittany and another in ile de france ; all administer the vaccine and no one knew where to add information. If anyone has greater details, much appreciated.

  2. Could you please provide more information on the exact steps a pharmacy should take to convert a CDC vaccination card to a pass sanitaire? I am in Côtes d’Armor, Brittany, and neither of the two pharmacies I went to (both of which administer vaccines and as helpful as they were) knew what to do. In other words, where in the database does the pharmacist find the page that will generate the pass sanitaire? Many thanks.

  3. I live in Paris, but was vaccinated in the US. I went to a local pharmacy near Place de la République in Paris, and asked if they could provide an attestation with QR code. The pharmacist knew exactly what to do. She only needed the information from my CDC card and asked for my address. I asked, and you do not need a French social security number to receive it.

  4. Please update this article as to Americans traveling to France with their CDC cards. The US Embassy noted that we must walk into willing pharmacies and doctor’s offices, present our CDC card, and get the French health pass that way. Is that what is going to happen? I have not seen anything from the French government on this yet. Are there specific pharmacies that will perform this service?

  5. What a mess. I know several people who have just moved from the US or are about to. They’re fully vaccinated, and it will be many months before they have a Carte Vitale. This silly policy of announcing strict rules without considering obvious implications is giving people needless stress.

  6. Thank you for this very thorough info. Like emvail above, my family and I purchased the BinaxNow covid test kits from Abbott. https://www.abbott.com/corpnewsroom/diagnostics-testing/BinaxNOW-what-you-need-to-know.html These tests have received rave reviews, are easy to use and are definitely approved by the CDC (US). They are self administered and certified via the internet so there is no stressing about making an appointment or not having a test in time to board your flight. Hope this helps.

  7. Thank you JaneBeverley, for the detail reply. Fortunately or unfortunately we are in the Coted’Azur area, and we will be jumping from one airport to another with two different countries before we will catch our plane to US. Hopefully, it will be smooth ride. We heard there is a special testing places near by, so we will be checking out next week. Thank you.

  8. I just got back from travelling all over Europe. I bought the Abbott Binax test that you take with you and perform the tests on a zoom call. My whole family has been using them SUPER easy. And we dont have to go around looking for test centers. I got them on emed.com.

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