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What changes on Monday as France introduces the vaccine pass?

A policeman checks the Covid-19 health pass  in France. The government plans to transform the health pass into a vaccine pass by the end of January.
A policeman checks the Covid-19 health pass in France. The government plans to transform the health pass into a vaccine pass by the end of January. (Photo by JEAN FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)
On Monday, France's health pass became a vaccine pass. But what does this actually mean and how does it affect you?

The French vaccine pass enters into effect on Monday, January 24th.

What is the vaccine pass? 

The vaccine pass (pass vaccinal) will replace the health pass (pass sanitaire). 

In brief, it requires proof of vaccination to take part in many everyday activities and the French government has been open about the fact that the intention is to push more people into getting fully vaccinated including a booster injection.

Since the creation of the vaccine pass was announced in December, 1 million adults have had a first-dose vaccination, according to Prime Minister Jean Castex.

How will it work? 

Since the summer of 2021, anyone in France must hold a valid health pass to enter various public venues such as cinemas, cafés, bars, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, museums, concerts, large gatherings, sports matches, long-distance train carriages and to access healthcare venues as a visitor or non-emergency patient. 

The health pass was valid if users met any one of the following requirements: full vaccination against Covid-19; proof of recent recovery from Covid-19; or evidence of having tested negative for the virus within the previous 24-hours. 

For a vaccine pass, negative tests will not be accepted.

Instead you must present either

  • Proof of full vaccination (including a booster if applicable)
  • A certificate of recent (within 6 months) recovery from Covid – full details on how to get that HERE
  • An attestation de contre-indication – this is a certificate stating that you cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. This must conform to the French QR code format – full details HERE

When does it change? 

It came into effect on Monday, January 24th. The law allowing for this change has been approved by the French Assemblée nationale and the Senate. On Friday the Constitutional Council approved the project, removing the last legal barrier to its implementation.

How will it work?

The vaccine pass will still use the TousAntiCovid app. So for fully vaccinated people (90 percent of the population of over 12s) nothing will change – you can continue to show proof of vaccination either on the app or on paper to enter any health pass venue.

France’s digital affairs minister Cedric O confirmed: “There will be nothing to do for people who already have a valid health pass because TAC Verif [the app that waiters etc use to check customers’ health passes] will synchronise with the new algorithms and will automatically implement the new health rules.”

There are some differences though;

The vaccine pass applies only to people aged 16 and over, while the health pass is required for over 12s. Children aged between 12 and 15 can continue to use the health pass by showing proof of a negative Covid test taken with the previous 24 hours.

For people needing to access non-emergency medical care, or attending a health or social establishment (such as a nursing home) as a visitor, there is still the option of showing a negative test if they are not vaccinated.

The pass is required for inter-regional public transport (trains, long-distance buses and domestic flights) but a negative Covid test can be shown instead if there are “imperative reasons of a family or health nature” that an unvaccinated traveller needs to make the journey – such as going to visit a dying relative.

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In order to encourage people to get their vaccine, those people who have recently had a first dose will be able to use a combination of their first dose certificate with a negative Covid test.

Unvaccinated people who receive a first dose between January 20th and February 15th will be able to use a combination of their first dose and a negative Covid test in order to access vaccine pass venues. Those who get the first dose after February 15th will have to wait until seven days after their second dose in order to use the vaccine pass.

In order to combat vaccine pass fraud, staff in health pass venues such as waiters can now request ID to confirm that the customer is presenting their own health pass. This was the subject of considerable controversy – normally in France only an employee of the state, such as a police officer, can request ID – and under the bill as passed ID can only be requested “when there are serious reasons to believe that the document presented is not linked to the person presenting it”.

What counts as fully vaccinated? 

You count as fully vaccinated in France if you have received two doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines more than 7 days ago, or a single dose of Janssen 28 days ago.

If you have previously had Covid, a single dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna is accepted.

If you had your second dose more than seven months ago, you will need to have a booster shot in order to keep your ‘fully vaccinated’ status.

If you had Covid after getting two shots but before you could get the booster, you can use the positive test result in lieu of a booster shot for six months.

The above definition, including the requirement for booster shots, applies to tourists, visitors and people vaccinated outside France. 

For full details on who counts as ‘fully vaccinated’, click here.

What about children? 

The health pass already applies to children aged 12-17.

The vaccine pass, however, will only apply to those aged 16 and over, with 12-15 year-olds able to keep showing negative test results – however these cannot be more than 24 hours old.

The health pass is not required for schools.

What if I am just visiting France?

The health pass is required for everyone in France, even if they are only visiting, and it seems likely that this will also apply to the vaccine pass, although details on this have not yet been published.

Boosters are also required for visitors in order to keep their pass activated. 

What if I was vaccinated overseas? 

If you were vaccinated within the EU, you will have been issued with a EU Digital Covid Certificate with is fully compatible with the French health pass and will also be compatible with a vaccine pass.  

For non-EU nationals, you may be required to ask at a pharmacy to access a vaccine equivalency certificate (unless you are from the UK in which case showing proof on your NHS vaccination app is fine). 

Vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazenca and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson) are all valid in France. 

Vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation but not by the EMA (Covaxin, Sinopharm and Sinovac) are seen as semi-valid for use in France. This means that if you have had two doses of any of these vaccines, you will need to have a single dose of an EMA approved vaccine in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

Sputnik and other vaccines are not recognised in France. You will need to have a full course of EMA approved vaccines in order to use the vaccine pass. 

If you tested positive for Covid in an EU country, you can currently scan the result (provided you have a paper copy or QR code) into your TousAntiCovid app. This is the equivalent of receiving one dose of vaccine. 

If your positive result comes from a non-EU country, you will not be able to scan the code into the app. The rules state that non-EU positive results are not accepted as a vaccine-substitute in France, but some readers have reported taking their results to either a vaccine centre or a pharmacy and having them added to the app by staff there, although this is not the official policy.

In order to enter the country, you can show a vaccination certificate from any country and a booster is not yet required to enter France. 


Member comments

  1. I am traveling to France Feb 5th. I am a US resident but arriving from Switzerland. I was in the Novavax clinical trial (now EMA approved) in the US (both doses in January 2021) – I have had no boosters but contracted Covid (in the US) and tested positive via a PCR on Nov 28th, 2021 (have documentation w/ QR code). I also have written document from primary care stating my positive PCR and I am cleared to travel. will I be able to get a vaccine equivalency certificate?

  2. I travel to France next week. have had my second jab within the last 6 months, but not had a booster yet, will my vaccine pass still be approved?

  3. What if an American gets his/her booster shot 6 or 7 months after the second dose and then travels to France? Could he/she be eligible to get the French vaccination pass?

  4. If you have recently recovered from Covid are you not entitled to a pass? My French doctor refused to vaccinate until 6 months had passed. I assume this still applies? This is what the 2G system entails but not mentioned in the article.

  5. It will be interesting to see what window they give for us to get the booster shot. I am now eligible (as of this morning) and have been trying to book an appointment for the past week in anticipation of this. I did manage to get a slot for the 28th January so am hoping that falls within whatever time they allot us to get the shot.

  6. Could someone please specify the “government site” that lists pharmacies willing/able to convert a Canadian vaccination certificate to a French vaccine pass.

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