Covid vaccine pass: Travel warning over family holidays in France

France has lifted many of its travel restrictions - but visitors travelling with children should be aware of vaccination requirements for under 18s.

Carcassonne medieval cité
Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP

Since summer 2021, France has required a Covid health pass for entry to many everyday venues including restaurants, leisure centres, tourist sites and long-distance train travel.

The passport requires one of three things; proof of fully vaccinated status, a negative Covid test no more than 24 hours old, or proof of recent recovery from Covid.

However, the health pass will shortly – probably from January 21st although the precise date is yet to be confirmed – become a vaccine pass. In this case, only proof of vaccination is accepted.

READ ALSO How the French health passport works

And this also applies to some children.

Anyone over the age of 12 years and two months is required to show their pass, meaning that if a family wants to go out for dinner all family members over the age of 12 will need to show their health passes before being allowed in.

Children under 12 are not affected and do not need to show a health or vaccine pass.

Among French teenagers, nearly 80 percent of 12-17 year-olds are now fully vaccinated.

However, tourists coming from countries that have a different protocol may have a problem.

The definition is ‘fully vaccinated’ for 12-17-year-olds is the same as for adults – two doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna or a single dose of Janssen.

A single dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna is not considered sufficient and youngsters who have only had one dose have to follow the rules for unvaccinated people.

READ ALSO A step-by-step guide to getting the French health passport

Anyone over the age of 12 years and two months who is not fully vaccinated has two main options.

The first is to get a Covid test every 24 hours – as well as being not a whole load of fun, tests for tourists are no longer free, so families face a cost of €22 for an antigen test (or €44 for a PCR test) every 24 hours for each child over the age of 12. Either type of test is accepted for the health pass, but home test kits results or Lateral Flow Tests are not accepted.

The second option is to avoid health pass venues, but this covers a wide range of places including cafés, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums and tourist sites (including theme parks like Disneyland Paris), leisure centres, events such as festivals or concerts and long-distance travel on trains, buses or domestic airlines.

If you’re visiting a ski resort, you will also need the pass to use ski lifts.

Accommodation such as hotels, gîtes and campsites generally don’t require a health pass, but you will need to show it if you use communal facilities such as a pool or bar. Business owners are also within their rights to make it a condition of stay, so check booking information in advance.

The health passport does contain provision to prove you have recently recovered from Covid, but this requires a positive test result less than six months old, plus a negative result from the previous 11 days. Both these test results must be in a format that is compatible with the French app, so is unlikely to be of much use to tourists.

Vaccine pass

As mentioned, France’s health pass will shortly become a vaccine pass.

When the vaccine pass comes in, that will be required for children aged 16 and over.

So 16 and 17-year-olds will need to show proof of full vaccination, negative tests results will no longer be accepted.

Children aged between 12 and 15 can continue to use the health pass, which accepts either vaccination certificates or a recent negative Covid test.

Fully vaccinated

The criteria to be ‘fully vaccinated’ for 12-17-year-olds is the same as for adults:

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen in France). The Indian-produced Covishield vaccine is now accepted by France 
  • Be at least seven days after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or seven days after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19
  • For adults, a booster shot may be required in order to maintain their fully vaccinated status, but this does not apply to under 18s. 

Member comments

  1. From my understanding 16-18 year olds are only receiving one dose under UK rules and yet this doesn’t seem sufficient under the French criteria.

    Can anybody confirm that this is indeed the case?

    1. That’s correct, over 12s need to be fully vaccinated, which means 2 doses if using Pfizer or Moderna

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What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

Several French unions have filed strike notices for February, with some aiming to target to busy February holiday period - here's what you can expect.

What to expect from strike action in France during the February school holidays

France is in the grip of a major confrontation between unions and the government over plans to reform the pension system.

So far, the main actions have been concentrated on one-day strikes that are supported by all eight of the union federations, however an increasing number of unions are filing notices for renewable or unlimited strikes, with some targeting the February holidays.

The French minister of tourism, Olivia Gregoire, called on unions to respect the “sacred period” of school holidays (which in France run from February 4th to March 6th, depending on which zone you are in).

Meanwhile, Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, told RTL that if the government remains stubborn then “there is a possibility of days of action during the school vacations”.

As a result, it is likely that further notices will be filed.  The Local will update this story with the latest – but here’s what we know so far.

January actions

Tuesday, January 31st – this is the next one-day mass strike, which will likely see severe disruption on many services, particularly public transport – full details here.

February actions

Trains – two rail unions – the hardline Sud-Rail and CGT-Cheminots – have filed a renewable strike notice for “mid-February” in addition to a two-day strike which is to take place on Tuesday, February 7th, and Wednesday, and 8th. 

READ MORE: Calendar: The French pension strike dates to remember

Ski resorts – two of the largest unions representing French ski lift operators and seasonal workers, FO (Force ouvrière) and the CGT, have filed “unlimited” strike notices starting on January 31st – the same day that unions across other sectors have called for another ‘mass strike’.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the strike will continue throughout February, but unions say they want to put pressure on the government to discuss both pensions and changes to benefits for seasonal workers, which particularly affect ski industry employees.

The CGT union in particular has threatened further actions during the Ski World Championships, held in Courchevel from February 6th to February 19th. Strikes in ski resorts usually primarily affect the operation of ski lifts. You can read more here.

Oil refinery workers – refinery workers have threatened to strike for a period of 72 hours beginning on February 6th. 

The national union coordinator for French oil giant, TotalEnergies, Eric Sellini, told AFP that these actions would result in “lower throughput” and “the stoppage of shipments.”

The most concrete effect of this is likely to be shortages of petrol and diesel at some filling stations if the blockades are successful in stopping supplies leaving the refineries.

Power cuts – the hardline CGT have also threatened more “direct action” with employees of the State electricity sector threatening to cut the power to certain towns. This isn’t a scheduled action (or indeed a legal one, the government has promised to prosecute workers who do this) but short targeted power cuts could continue into February.

UK border – finally, if you are travelling to or from the UK, be aware that a UK Border Force strike is planned for February 1st and 2nd, which is likely to increase waiting times at the border.

We will update this story as more details are released, and you can also find all the latest in our strike section HERE.