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How people vaccinated in the USA can access the French health passport

How people vaccinated in the USA can access the French health passport
Photo: Sebastian Solom Gomis/AFP
France is extending its health passport scheme so it will be required to access a number of everyday venues including cafés, trains and tourist sites - so is it possible to use an American vaccination certificate to access this?

The health passport is required in France to access venues including swimming pools, cinemas and tourist sites and from August 1st will be expanded again to cover venues including bars, cafés, sopping centres and long-distance train or bus travel.

READ ALSO When, where and why you need a health passport in France

If you were vaccinated in France it is pretty simple to load your vaccination certificate onto the health passport app – here’s how.

But what about those vaccinated in the USA, either tourists or French nationals or residents who got their vaccinations while in the US?

People vaccinated in the EU have compatible vaccination certificates, while for those in the UK the NHS app is compatible with the French health passport app.

But for those vaccinated in the USA things are a little more complicated, especially as many states do not issue vaccination certificates with QR codes.

However, it’s not an impossible problem.

For entry into France, showing a US vaccination certificate – either on paper or in a digital format – is sufficient if you are ‘fully vaccinated’. In travel terms that means you have had a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson) are at least two weeks after your second dose (or four weeks if you had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

The US is currently on France’s green list, meaning that if you are fully vaccinated you won’t need a Covid test.

Once you are in France, you will need to show the health passport – showing either proof of vaccination, a recent negative Covid test or recent recovery from Covid – to access a number of leisure or cultural venues.

Convert your vaccination certificate to a French one

In certain circumstances it is possible to obtain a French vaccination certificate by showing your US one.

First you need a vaccination certificate that conforms to World Health Organisation standards – showing your name plus details of the date of your vaccination and the batch number used. CDC-issued vaccination certificates comply with these rules.

Then you need a French health professional with access to the vaccination database. This can be anywhere that vaccinations are administered, but probably the most practical option is a pharmacy. The majority of French pharmacies are signed up to administer the vaccine and even quite small towns have at least one pharmacy (look out for the green cross).

Upon presentation of your US vaccination certificate, the pharmacist can then log you into the system and print out a French vaccination certificate, complete with QR code that can be scanned into the French app to give you access all areas while you are in France.

Caveats

However, this is new and it’s not clear at present how widespread the service is and whether all health professionals are aware of it.

Several readers of The Local have reported successfully doing this, while others have told us that their local pharmacy was not aware of the option or told them it was not possible. It’s not a compulsory health service, so you may need to visit a couple of places before you find someone who is willing to offer it.

The other issue is a French social security number. The system was initially proposed targeting French citizens or residents who were vaccinated while abroad in the US, so the guidance on this refers to showing your carte vitale health card or social security number, which obviously tourists will not have. The Local has requested clarification on whether the exchange can be done without a French social security number.

Guidance from the US Embassy in France notes: “For people vaccinated in the United States with a CDC card, any willing French doctor or pharmacist can enter the vaccination information in the French system, even for people who do not have a French social security number or carte vitale. This will allow the person to generate a paper or electronic (through the French Tous Anti Covid app) version of the health pass.  

“Since this is a new process, please anticipate that not all pharmacies/doctors are yet accustomed to or aware of this possibility.” 

French media are reporting that  full government text on exchanging vaccine certificates should be presented “at the beginning of August”.

Show your US vaccination certificate at venues

Getting a French vaccination certificate is easier because it means you can simply swipe the app at every venue that requires it. However if this is not possible, it’s not the end of the world.

The French rules contain a provision to allow the presentation of paper certificates for those people who either don’t own a smartphone or don’t want to use the app, so you are within your rights to show this certificate instead, although it may be slower than scanning a QR code.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said there will be a ‘tolerance’ for people who do not have the QR code necessary to use the French app until the issue of foreign vaccination certificates can be fully addressed.

Talks are ongoing between the EU and USA on harmonising the technology to allow various countries’ apps to scan non-EU certificates.


Member comments

  1. I followed these instructions and it worked perfectly. Such a relief! Thanks to the Local team for getting this out there.

  2. On July 27, I entered a pharmacie in Reims and asked if i could receive a Pass Sanitaire using my American vaccine card. They said yes and while processing asked for my phone number, email and local address, and nothing more, no fee. Ten minutes later they printed a paper pass with a QR code for me, that I used to create a digital pass on the TousAntiCovid app. I’d be surprised if the country reversed that decision in the last couple days. I recommend people try, and try again at another pharmacie if necessary.

  3. I was able to get an official pass sanitaire on 24 July at the British-American pharmacy at 1 rue Auber next to the Hotel Intercontinental near Opera for €20. They only needed my US passport and my CDC card. I don’t know if they are still doing it.
    Although the official pass sanitaire* is supposedly required (since 21 July) for museums, movie theaters, monuments (Eiffel Tower) and the like, enforcement seems to be spotty. Some people have reported getting admitted with the CDC card only, others have reported being turned away. Your mileage may vary.
    The requirement to have an official pass sanitaire* to enter restaurants (including outdoor terraces) and bars seems to have been delayed from 1 August to 9 August.
    An in-person stop at the official Paris Visitors Bureau at Hôtel de Ville (Paris city hall) is a good resource.
    Hope this helps.
    *Note: A negative PCR or antigen test no more than 48 hours old also works, and there are a couple of more esoteric exceptions as well.

  4. If all else fails, you should be able to get the QR code by testing every 2 days. We were able to get a test for our return to the U.S. for 25 euros in a pharmacy that we were passing by and received our results in 30 minutes, enough time to get a quick bite to eat and return for the paperwork. The QR code from a negative test is good for 48 hours. It’s not ideal but it will do and it’s easier to get a test in France for an American than it is for an American in America.

  5. Thanks for confirming you were able to use paper record We arrive on August 2 Hope we can use our paper CDC vaccination card everywhere it is required

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