For members


Reader question: Can you get a Covid vaccine booster without a French carte vitale?

As the booster shot programme for the Covid vaccine opens up to all, we look at the situation for new arrivals in France who are not yet registered in the French health system with the all-important carte vitale.

Covid vaccination centre in Lyon, France
Vaccinations are open to people without a carte vitale health card in France. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

Question: I live in France and applied for my carte vitale some months ago, but it has not arrived yet. Does this mean that I can’t get a booster shot for my Covid vaccine?

Like the main vaccination programme, booster shots in France are reserved for those who live here. However you do not have to be a French citizen to receive one. Thanks to a Decree published earlier in the year, you can access it even if you are not yet registered in the health system and do not have the carte vitale.

However, there are some issues specific to the booster shot programme. 

If you had your first doses in France

If you had your first and second vaccine doses in France then things should be easier to get the booster.

Take with you to your appointment the certificates from your first two vaccine doses – take the full paper certificates rather than just the TousAntiCovid app as the paper certificates have extra details such as the batch number of your first vaccines.  Also bring proof of ID such as a passport and proof that you are resident in France (carte de séjour or visa if you have one, if not proof of address such as utility bills).

If you had your first doses outside France

If you had your previous doses in another country but moved to France in the interim, then things could be a little more complicated. As a resident of France you are still entitled to the booster, but it’s likely that you will need to explain your situation to vaccine centre staff. If your French is still at the beginner stage it might be a good idea to take along a friend who speaks French who can explain your situation.

Take with you proof of residency in France (carte de séjour or visa if you have one, if not proof of address such as utility bills) plus proof of ID such as a passport.

You will also need vaccine certificates from your home country – if this is the UK you will need to download and print out the full certificate from the NHS website, not merely the generated QR code.

If you were vaccinated in the EU, Schengen zone or UK then your codes will be recognised by the French system. If you were vaccinated outside the EU then you may need to first convert your vaccination certificates to French ones – find details on how to do that here.


You also need to ensure that you are given the correct certificate so that you can continue to use the French health pass.

Some centres give out full certificates, while some give only a Synthèse des Données and others give both.

The Synthèse des Données (example above) is essentially just telling you that details of your vaccination have been sent to Assurance Maladie. For people with a carte vitale this is no problem – they can then log into their Ameli account and download the full certificate.

If you do not yet have a carte vitale, however, you will need to ask for the full certificate at your appointment.

If you have already got the booster and received only the Synthèse, you can go back to the vaccine centre and ask for this to be exchanged for a full certificate, explaining that you are unable to create an Ameli account since you do not yet have a carte vitale.

Once you have the full certificate, scan the QR code on the certificate into the TousAntiCovid app in order to keep your health pass activated.

If you prefer to use a paper certificate, you will need to begin showing the new certificate – showing your dose as “3 of 3” – in health pass venues.

Member comments

  1. Most importantly- don’t stress!
    I know of people with tourist visas who were staying here for several months and were vaccinated with minimal explanations.

  2. My wife and I are in exactly this situation and at that stage had no Visa or Carte de Sejour.

    We booked an appointment on the Doctolib app in Saint Jean d’Angély, went to the vaccination centre and showed our GHIC’s, vaccination certificates and passports. We received our boosters without any fuss.

  3. We had our first two vaccinations in the UK, the booster in France, with no issues. Problem is we cannot add the booster vaccination to our NHS pass. Has anyone else had this problem and found a solution?

  4. My husband and I have had two phizer vaccines in France as we are French residents, however we will be in UK when are boosters are due, can we have our booster in UK and will it work on our tous anticovid pass sanitaire, can it be added? We are UK citizens. Thanks

  5. We had our American vaccine info converted to a QR code, then loaded on the Tous AntiCovid app. this past fall in France. I have since gotten a booster in America. Any idea how to add that to the app?

  6. I can not find my first vaccine certificate and had both in France I am waiting for my carte vital so can not log on the ammeli I have my second certificate and my booster booked will there be issues?

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Vaccine pass for visitors in France – your questions answered

France now has in place a vaccine pass that is required for entry into a wide range of everyday venues including bars, cafés, tourist sites and long-distance trains - but this can be complicated for visitors or people vaccinated outside France.

Vaccine pass for visitors in France - your questions answered
Bars and cafés are among the French venues that require a vaccine pass. Photo: Sameer Al Doumy/AFP

Since January 24th, France has put in place a vaccine pass which is required to enter a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas, theatres, museums, large events and long-distance trains.

In short, if you intend to spend time in France, you are going to need one if you want to do anything fun.

Previously a health pass was in place, which allowed for either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test, but from January 24th negative tests are no longer accepted for anyone aged 16 and older.

You can find more details on how the pass works HERE, but there are some issues which particularly affect tourists, visitors or people vaccinated outside France.

Do I need a vaccine pass to enter France?

No. When the French government talks about the vaccine pass, they mean the domestic pass required to access everyday activities in France.

Depending on where you are travelling from, you may need to show proof of vaccination at the border, but this can be a vaccination certificate from your home country.

Once you’re in France, however, you will most likely need the pass. 

How do I get a vaccine pass?

The vaccine pass isn’t a physical document, it just means that you need to show proof of either vaccination, recent recovery from Covid or a medical exemption in order to enter certain venues (more on those below).

Importantly, however, these documents must have a French QR code so that staff in venues can scan them.

Most people use the TousAntiCovid app, which is available on all smartphones and has an option in English, but you can show paper certificates if you prefer.

If you are travelling from an EU or Schengen zone country you can use your own country’s domestic health/vaccine pass, since all QR codes are compatible within the bloc.

I had a health pass when I came to France in the summer, is the vaccine pass the same thing?

In effect, yes. The health pass required either proof of vaccination, proof of recent recovery from Covid or proof of a recent negative Covid test and most people used the TousAntiCovid app to show this (although you can also show paper certificates).

The vaccine pass doesn’t allow presentation of a negative test result, but in most other respects is the same, so if you have proof of full vaccination, nothing changes for you. Apart, that is, from boosters . . .

Do I need a booster shot to use the vaccine pass?

Probably, yes.

It depends on when you were vaccinated, but over 18s who have not had a booster more than seven months after their second dose are no longer counted as fully vaccinated. 

From February 15th, this window shrinks to four months.

If you have had the booster, it doesn’t matter if the gap between second dose and booster was longer than four or seven months, this concerns only those who have not received a booster shot.

The booster requirement applies to all vaccine pass users, including visitors.

However boosters are not required for travel, so in brief you can enter France without a booster, but you won’t be able to do much once you’re here.

Full details on who needs a booster HERE.

Will my vaccination certificate/booster shot certificate work with the French pass?

It depends on where you were vaccinated.

If you were vaccinated in the EU, Schengen zone or UK then you can scan the QR code on your vaccination certificate straight into the French app. This is also the case if you previously had a health pass and need to add a booster shot in order to keep it valid.

If, however, you were vaccinated in the USA, Canada, Australia or any other non EU/UK/Schengen country then things are a little more complicated. Once in France, you will have to take your vaccination certificate to an approved pharmacy in order to get a QR code that can be used with the French app. Full details HERE.

A vaccination certificate from your home country will be accepted at the border.

I’m not vaccinated but I have recently recovered from Covid, can I use the pass?

The vaccine pass requires one of three things; proof of full Covid vaccination, proof of recent recovery from Covid or proof of a medical exemption (more on that below).

However, the proof of recent recovery must be in an accepted format.

You can find full details on that here, but again it depends on where you tested positive for Covid. If it was in the EU, UK or Schengen zone then you should be able to upload your positive Covid test to the French app. The test must be more than 11 days old, but less than six months old in order to be valid.

If you tested positive outside the EU, you may have a problem. Some countries provide positive tests in a format recognised by France but others – including the USA – do not.

You can find full details of compatible codes HERE.

I had Covid before I could get a booster, what should I do?

If you want to use proof of recent recovery from Covid instead of a booster shot, then it’s the same process as outlined above.

I can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons, what can I do?

France does provide an option for medical exemptions, but the process is so complicated as to be virtually inaccessible to people who are just visiting France.

READ ALSO How can people who cannot be vaccinated use France’s vaccine pass?

In order to use the medical exemption clause, you require a French certificat de contre-indication, and getting one of these is not easy.

First you must fit the criteria of listed medical conditions which constitute an acceptable reason not to be vaccinated – and that is a short list.

Then you need a certificate from a French doctor stating that you cannot be vaccinated, certificates from doctors outside France are not accepted.

Once you have the certificate you need to send it to Assurance Maladie – the French state health insurer – which validates the certificate and issues you with a QR code that can be used with the vaccine pass. French residents can use an online process to send their certificate to Assurance Maladie, but this requires a French social security number. 

Where can I go without a vaccine pass?

The theory behind the vaccine pass is that people can do the essentials of daily life without it, but anything fun requires the pass.

It is not required for shops, short-distance transport or city public transport such as the Paris Metro, most workplaces, parks, beaches and outdoor gyms or when buying food or drink to take out.

It is required for; ski lifts, bars, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries, tourist sites (including outdoor sites), gyms, leisure centres, sports grounds, concerts, nightclubs (when they reopen), large events like festivals or long-distance train travel.

Are there any exemptions?

There are a couple of exemptions where a negative Covid test, taken within the previous 24 hours, is accepted instead of a vaccine pass.

  • If you need to travel on a long-distance train and have “imperative reasons of a family or health nature” such as going to visit a dying relative – you would need to present some proof of this.
  • A vaccine pass is required to access non-emergency medical treatment or to visit a medical or social establishment (such as a nursing home). If you do not have a vaccine pass you can use a negative test instead. Emergency medical treatment does not require a vaccine pass or a Covid test.

What about children?

  • A vaccine pass is required for anyone aged 16 or above.
  • Children aged between 12 and 15 are required to use the health pass, in which a negative Covid test no more than 24 hours is accepted for those who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Under 12s do not require any type of pass.

The definition of fully vaccinated for children is the same as for adults; to be at least seven days after two doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccines or 28 days after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Booster shots are not required for under 18s.

For children travelling from countries that have only recently started offering vaccinations to under 18s, or that only offer a single shot of Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna, this creates a problem as the children are unvaccinated by the French definition and face daily Covid tests in order to keep the health pass.

Do all these venues really check the pass?

Staff at any of the listed vaccine pass venues are supposed to check the pass on entry, but as ever in life, compliance is not 100 percent.

The majority of places do check, especially in the cities, but it can be variable. We’ve also heard anecdotal accounts of staff accepting non-French vaccination certificates, especially the American CDC cards, but be aware that this is not official policy.

It’s probably best not to chance it on a train – guards can remove you from the train at the next stop if you are found to be travelling without a valid pass.

And if you’re tempted to use someone else’s pass in order to gain access to a bar/café etc then we would strongly advise against this – that is vaccine pass fraud and there are very stiff penalties in place for this, including jail time.

Do you have a question on vaccine passes that is not covered here? Email us on [email protected] and we will do our best to answer it.