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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UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

The main union representing French air traffic controllers has cancelled calls for a strike from September 28th to 30th, after "reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry."

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

SNCTA, the main union for air traffic controllers said this week that they had lifted their calls for a three-day strike at the end of September after coming to an agreement with France Ministry of Transport. 

In a statement on its website, the SNCTA said “In view of the concrete progress made on the demands, the SNCTA is lifting its [strike] notice for September 28th, 29th and 30th. The strong mobilisation of September 16th was necessary and instrumental for reaching this conciliation in a very constrained calendar. Thank you to all of you!” 

The French ministry of transport has not yet commented on the above agreement or lifting of the strike.

The International Air Transport Association tweeted their support for the SNCTA’s decision to cancel further industrial action, calling Friday’s strike “unnecessary.”

The association also urged the European Union to implement a “Single European Sky.” This reform, which was put forward almost 20 years ago, has not yet reached fruition. It intends to shift the current system of air traffic organisation away from national borders and toward a “coherent zone” in order to reduce emissions and save both time and money.

The strike on September 16th left over 1,000 flights in France grounded, as well as widespread delays and over 2,400 flight cancellations across Europe. 

The SNCTA mobilised for wage increases due to the rising cost of living, in addition to an acceleration of recruitment in order to anticipate a wave of retirements. After Friday’s action, the union had called for further strikes from September 28th to 30th before reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry.