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EXPLAINED: When and where you need a health passport in France

EXPLAINED: When and where you need a health passport in France
Photo: Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP.
The health passport is now in use in France for a variety of everyday venues including cafés, cinemas, tourist sites and long-distance travel - with both visitors and employees required to present the pass. Here's how the rules work.

The health passport requires one of three things – proof of vaccination, a recent (within 72 hours) negative Covid test or proof of recent recovery from Covid.

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For most people, using the TousAntiCovid app will be the most practical option but there is also an option to show proof on paper for people who don’t own a smartphone or don’t want to use the app.

For tourists or those who had their vaccines done outside France – click HERE to find out how to convert your certificates for use in France.

Where?

Since August 9th, the health passport has been required for;

Bars, restaurants and cafés

You will need to show a health pass to access bars, restaurants and cafés, whether you want to sit inside or outside, because the measure will also apply to terraces.

This includes hotels, camp sites and holiday clubs which have a bar or restaurant. But canteens in workplaces, schools, universities and hospitals are exempt, as are takeaways.

Weddings will not require a health pass, unless taking place in a venue covered by the rules such as a restaurant or tourist site (even if it is closed to the general public).

Long-distance travel

The pass is required for long-distance coach, train and plane journeys.

For trains, this includes TGV (Inoui et Ouigo), Intercité, night trains, and international trains travelling through France. It does not apply to regional TER services or the Transilien lines which serve the Paris suburbs such as RER trains. Nor does it apply to local transportation systems like Metro or tram lines. Full details on how checks will work on trains are availble HERE.

Only inter-regional and international buses, run by operators such as Flixbus and Blablacar Bus, will ask for the health pass. Blablacar has said it will verify passes “systematically” when boarding.

It was already necessary to show proof of vaccination or a negative test for international plane journeys, but from August 9th, the health pass is required for domestic flights as well.

Checks can be carried out when boarding or on board, and SNCF staff are entitled to ask for ID, to ensure that the name on the health pass matches that of the ID. Staff at venues such as cinemas and cafés are not entitled to ask for ID when checking health passes. 

Hospitals, medical centres and retirement homes

This has been one of the most controversial aspects of the government’s plans: from August 9th, visitors as well as people seeking non-urgent medical care require a health pass to enter hospitals.

This applies to people with scheduled appointments to visit a doctor, but not to emergency treatment. The Constitutional Council ruled that this measure “does not limit access to care”.

Health minister Olivier Véran has clarified that this does not apply to visits to a GP or family doctor.

To visit somebody in a retirement home you will also have to present proof of vaccination, a negative test or proof of recovery from Covid.

Shopping centres

The government originally hoped to extend the health pass to all shopping centres of more than 20,000 square metres, but after a compromise, this now depends on the health situation at a local level. Local préfectures will decide which large shopping centres will be required to implement the health passport if Covid cases are particularly high in their area.

The pass is not required to enter individual shops or malls of less than 20,000 square metres.

Culture and leisure venues

The health pass has already been in use in culture and leisure venues hosting more than 50 people since July 21st. This includes:

  • Concert venues
  • Cinemas and theatres
  • Festivals
  • Indoor and outdoor sports venues including gyms, swimming pools and stadiums
  • Games rooms and casinos
  • Places of worship that are holding cultural events such as concerts (but the pass is not required for religious worship)
  • Amusement parks and zoos
  • Museums, galleries and tourist attractions
  • Nightclubs, discotheques and dance venues

From August 9th it is required in all of these places, even if they are hosting fewer than 50 people.

Who?

The health passport is required for everyone over the age of 12.

However, because many young people are not yet fully vaccinated, children between the ages of 12 and 17 will not be required to show the passport until September 30th.

Government sources have told Le Parisien newspaper that from that date the health pass obligation will only apply to people aged at least 12 years and 2 months, in order to give children time to get vaccinated following their twelfth birthday. In France, you must wait at least three weeks between doses, and you are considered fully vaccinated one week after your final dose.

Masks

Masks are no longer compulsory in venues covered by the health pass, with two exceptions; trains, planes and buses where it is still required and in areas where the incidence rate is higher than 200 cases per 10,000 people.

However, local authorities can impose their own mask rules and in many areas these are stricter than the government’s requirements.

What are the penalties for not using the health passport?

Unlike other French Covid-related rules such as the mask rules, the health passport does not come with fines for non-compliance for members of the public.

Employees of health passport venues need to check your pass on arrival, and without it you can be refused entry.

If businesses are found not to be checking, it is the business that faces sanctions. Originally this was envisaged as a fine and maximum of one-year imprisonment, however this was amended on the law’s passage through parliament so businesses now face civil sanctions including the closure of the business.

However, members of the public will be fined €135 if they are found to be using a fraudulent health pass (using a fake certificate or another person’s pass). This rises to six months in prison and a €3,750 fine if repeated more than three times in the space of a month.

What about employees of health passport venues?

The rules on health passports apply to everyone who is in the listed venues – staff or visitors.

This leaves staff with the option of either getting tested every 72 hours – and ‘convenience tests’ for the unvaccinated are set to be charged at €29 for an antigen test or €49 for a PCR test – or getting vaccinated.

Employees were given a grace period until August 30th, to give them enough time to get fully vaccinated.

After some debate in parliament it was agreed that staff cannot be dismissed for refusing to be vaccinated, but cannot come into work. They will first be asked to use their annual holiday leave and then to take unpaid leave, while remaining an employee of the company.

The bill approved by parliament allowed for the early termination of fixed-term contracts, but this measure was shot down by the Constitutional Council.

And health workers?

The rules for healthcare workers are slightly different as the health passport bill also approves making vaccination compulsory for those working in the health or care sector.

Anyone working in health or care roles, or anyone volunteering to work in the care sector, is required to be vaccinated before September 15th.

Those who refuse cannot work and will not be paid.

The health pass rules cannot be extended beyond November 15th without being once again approved by a parliamentary vote.


Member comments

  1. The French government sent me an email saying that they will not be able to fill all the requests for conversions of US vaccine documents to the French one with a QR code. They suggested getting tested in a pharmacy every three days! Ridiculous! I submitted my request three weeks ago. It is time for them to address the issue.

    1. Exactly ! I just returned from a local hospital here in France. The government is no longer allowing them convert our US vaccination records to a QR code. I am so frustrated as I have received the same reply. Too busy, go to a pharmacy every 3 days…it’s unbelievable…

  2. We wear seat belts by law in France to drive vehicles – the stats prove the point that on balance it’s a good idea. Maybe on balance to help us all get back to some semblance of normality, having health passes, vaccinations etc it’s the best option out there. Has anyone a better option based on verifiable empirical evidence not opinion? Good luck …. Robert

  3. Dear TheLocal, can you please fix the ‘Report comment’ button?
    Because it doesn’t work on iPhones or Macs, and thus clear spam like random nutter’s comments here can’t be reported.

  4. i couldnt come to france to see my ten year old daughter if i didnt get vaccinated. you are being held to ransom if you look at in black and white and forced to get vaccinated.

  5. Perhaps you believe you cannot get Covid-19 because you are “vaccinated”, but that is not true you can get Covid and you can be a carrier of the disease whether you are aware of that or not. Just because the resto has only “vaccinated” does not believe you cannot get Covid in the resto. You are only allowing the government to control you.

  6. Why are you talking about the NHS? Forgive me if I am wrong, but the article is about the French health pass. It is about requirements here in France, not the UK.

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