FOR MEMBERS

LATEST: How visitors from outside the EU can access the French health pass

LATEST: How visitors from outside the EU can access the French health pass
Photo: Pierre Verdy/AFP
If you're planning a trip to France you will need the health pass to access venues including bars, cafés and tourist sites, but getting this if you were vaccinated outside the EU, Schengen zone or UK can be complicated. Here's how it works.

The EU digital travel pass means that those vaccinated in EU countries have vaccination codes that are compatible with the French system, and the same is true of people vaccinated in a Schengen zone country or in the UK.

However visitors from outside the EU/Schengen/UK area need to obtain a European code before they can use the health pass, and the process for doing this has changed several times since the health pass was rolled out in August.

The French government has now shut the online portal for this, and introduced a new system.

Here’s how it works:

Who?

This applies to anyone who was vaccinated outside the EU. What passport you hold is largely irrelevant, although French citizens vaccinated outside the EU do have their own separate system.

In order to apply for the French code you must be

  • Over the age of 12
  • Fully vaccinated with either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines

Those vaccinated with Sinopharm or Sinovac can get a French code if they have had a single top-up dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.

Those vaccinated with Sputnik or any other vaccines not recognised by the WHO need two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna before they are accepted as fully vaccinated in France.

(article continues below)

See also on The Local:

Why?

The health pass is now compulsory to access a wide range of venues and if you cannot prove your status as fully vaccinated you face having to either take a €22 Covid test every three days or avoid all bars, cafés, cinemas, tourist attractions, gyms, leisure centres and long-distance trains.

How?

The new system is a really a thrown-back to the very first system, only a little more formalised.

Previously tourists and visitors were told to email or apply online in advance of their trip to get their code, but now codes can only be issued by pharmacies.

This means that tourists will have to wait until they have arrived in the country and then sort out the necessary code, which is available on a walk-in basis from pharmacies.

Not all pharmacies offer this service, visitors will have to go to a participating pharmacy and, as the map below shows, there are not many of these and they are heavily concentrated on cities, especially Paris.

You can find an interactive version of the map HERE to find the closest pharmacy to you.

Once at the pharmacy, you show your original paper vaccination certificate and your passport and the pharmacist will give you a QR code. The code can then be scanned into the French TousAntiCovid app and this creates the health pass.

Find full details on how the health pass works HERE.

Charles de Gaulle airport

If you are coming to France by air and you are flying into Charles de Gaulle airport, there is a pharmacy at the airport that offers this service. 

It’s called Pharmacie Bonassoli, but it does not operate 24/7.

How much?

Previously the swapping service was free, but now pharmacists can charge up to a maximum fee of €36.

Why the change?

The process for tourists and visitors from outside the EU to get the necessary code has never really worked very well, and The Local has received dozens of emails from people who were unable to get the code, or who waited weeks for their application to be processed, leaving them without a pass on their holidays.

Most of the rollout of the health pass has gone very (some might say surprisingly) smoothly, but this areas has definitely been a weak spot.

The most recent system was an online application form, but many people reported that it took weeks to get their code so it was probably understaffed.

By moving the task back to pharmacies the government has at least provided a service that is accessible on a walk-in basis, and hopefully more pharmacies will sign up to the scheme in time.

What if you are still waiting?

If you already applied online for the code and are still waiting, the government says that existing applications will be processed.

However if it has not arrived by the time you get to France, you can also go to the pharmacy to get your code.

Other options

If this system doesn’t work out for you there are a couple of other options. 

The health pass also works with a negative Covid test, so you could take regular tests. Tests are available on a walk-in basis from virtually all pharmacies in France and for tourists cost €22 for an antigen test or €44 for a PCR test. Both types work with the health passport.

We’ve also received anecdotal reports of foreign vaccine certificates, especially the American CDC card, being accepted as proof of vaccination by staff at bars or cafés. However, this is not officially recognised.

French vocab

Pass sanitaire – health passport 

Attestation de vaccination étranger or Certificat de vaccination étranger  – Foreign (ie non-EU) vaccination certificate

Code QR (pronounced coo-aire) – QR code

Conversion de certificats de vaccination étrangers en format européen – Conversion of foreign vaccination certificates into a European format (this is the formal name for this service, so look out for pharmacies offering this)

Bonjour, pouvez-vous tranformer mon certificat de vaccination étranger en un QR code français pour le pass sanitaire ? – Hello, can you swap my foreign vaccination certificate for a French QR code for the health pass?


Member comments

  1. If you arrive to another EU country that uses the EU Covid Health Pass before entering France, will this be suffice? Or do you need to get a specific France Health Pass once you enter the country?

  2. The pharmacie mentioned is not *at* CDG, it is *near* CDG. Hopefully, one (or all) of the pharmacies in the airport will offer this service…

  3. Arriving off the Eurostar with a two hour transfer to catch a fast train to the Spanish border. What are our chances of getting the new pass from a pharmacy in this time? And do the high speed trains insist on the health passes?

    1. Sometimes you need to show the pass to get on the train but not always. I have been asked to show it before entering the platform at Gare du Nord. It only takes a few minutes for the process of getting you the barcode… the trick will be finding a participating pharmacist close to the gare. Hopefully, there will be some in or adjacent to the gare that join the program.

  4. so glad I got mine early, this was one of my biggest concerns, the online trick was do it at 2am est in USA, received QR in 5 mins. Paris here we come.

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.