No health passport required as French universities return to full in-person teaching

University students in France will not need to hold a Covid-19 health pass to attend lectures when the new term starts in September, the Minister for Higher Education has said.

No health passport required as French universities return to full in-person teaching
Photo: Damien Meyer / AFP

The same will apply to activities on campus, such as sports classes, which are only attended by students and members of staff, as well as university canteens and libraries.

But the passe sanitaire (health passport) will be required to attend other university events, including cultural, leisure or sporting events at venues that also accept members of the public. This will include any conferences or seminars open to the public attended by 50 people or more.

Some 2.5 million self-tests have already been delivered to universities, which will be able to distribute them for free among the student body – and the government has said it will cover the cost of future orders.

Students, set for a return to full in-person education, will also still have to wear a mask indoors, given the current health situation, minister Frédérique Vidal told Le Parisien.

READ ALSO Full classes and no health passports – how French schools will restart in September

She said that she wanted the new academic year to be “as normal as possible”, and said there would be no limits on numbers in lecture theatres.

But she warned that universities may have to adopt random or systematic Covid-19 screening methods if a cluster of cases is detected. If three positive cases of the virus are detected in a single teaching group over a rolling seven-day period, the university must contact health authorities and begin contact tracing.

In such cases, anyone who tests positive and any unvaccinated contact cases will have to self-isolate for seven days. Any contact case who has been fully vaccinated will not have to isolate.

Health authorities, meanwhile, will set up vaccination centres on campus and students not already inoculated will be encouraged to protect themselves against Covid-19.

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Your questions answered on France’s 4-month booster shot rule

Most people - including tourists and visitors - now need a booster shot in order to use the French vaccine pass. Here's how it works.

Your questions answered on France's 4-month booster shot rule

What changed?

On Wednesday, February 15th, booster shot rules were tightened up.

The vaccine pass was already required in France to access a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, ski lifts, tourist sites, gyms, leisure centres and long-distance buses or trains.

The pass initially required a booster after seven months, but on February 15th this fell to four months.

That means that anyone who has not already had a booster shot, and for whom their second vaccine dose was more than four months ago, is no longer eligible for the vaccine pass.

If you live in France, you can get a booster shot three months after your second dose.

Who needs a booster?

The deactivation concerns only those who have not had a booster shot.

If you have already had a booster your pass will remain active – even if you got your booster more than four months after your second dose. There is at present no requirement for a second booster shot.

Does this apply to tourists and visitors?

Yes, the booster shot rule applies to everyone, both French residents and people who are visiting France.

Boosters are not required to enter the country. At the border presentation of a certificate of full vaccination – in most cases two doses – is sufficient.

However, once you are in the country you need a vaccine pass if you intend to visit bars, cafés, ski lifts, cinemas, theatres, gyms, leisure centres, tourist sites, large events, sports matches or use long-distance trains, buses or domestic flights.

If you are visiting from outside France and have not had a booster shot and more than four months have passed since your second dose, you may not be able to access the vaccine pass, which will severely curtail your holiday activities.

What about children?

Children under the age of 12 do not need any type of pass.

Children aged between 12 and 15 need a health pass – which can use either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test.

Children aged between 16 and 18 need a vaccine pass, but do not need a booster.

Anyone aged 18 and over needs a vaccine pass with a booster.

Full details HERE.

What if I caught Covid before I could get the booster?

If you have recently had Covid, it’s possible to use a certificate of recovery instead of a booster shot.

The certificate lasts for four months after you had Covid, after that you will need a booster.

Full details on how to get the certificate HERE.

What if my country doesn’t offer a booster after four months?

Not all countries offer booster shots within four months of getting the second dose, with some people having to wait for up to six months until they are eligible.

The Local has raised this issue with the French government, but the answer appears to be ‘tough’ – not being eligible for a vaccine in your home country doesn’t mean that the French four-month limit does not apply.

The American Embassy has issued a travel warning over this issue, advising anyone travelling from the US to check carefully before departing that they will be eligible for the French vaccine pass, or face a severely constrained holiday.

Will my vaccination certificate be accepted in France?

If you were vaccinated in the EU, the Schengen zone or the UK, your vaccination certificate is compatible with the French system.

However if you were vaccinated in a non-EU/Schengen/UK country, you will need to convert your vaccination certificate to a French code once you arrive in France – here’s how.

Will my positive test result be accepted in France?

If you intend to rely on a recent Covid infection rather than a booster shot, check first whether your test result will be valid in France.

If you tested positive in the EU or Schengen zone and got a PCR or antigen test, then your test certificate will be accepted. Home test kit results are not accepted.

If you tested positive in the UK then PCR tests will be accepted, but not all types of Lateral Flow Test will – full details here.

If you tested positive in Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Cape Verde, El Salvador, the Faroe Islands, Georgia, Israel, Iceland, Lebanon, Lichtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Saint-Marino, Serbia, Singapour, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, Uruguay and Vatican City then your test result will be accepted, provided the results certificate has a QR code on it. The French government has created a platform here where you can check if your certificate is compatible with the French system.

Positive tests from countries not listed above will almost certainly not be accepted in France.

Full details HERE

What if I can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons?

In a small number of cases, vaccination is not possible for medical reasons. In this case you need a Certificat de contre-indicationfull details here on how to get that.

Can I get a booster while I am in France?

If your home country doesn’t offer boosters within the four-month limit, is it possible to come to France and get a booster here?

The French vaccination programme is intended for residents of France. It may be possible in some cases for tourists or visitors to get a booster shot while here, but our advice is that people should not rely on that if they intend to travel to France for a holiday.