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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Can I get a Covid vaccine as a tourist in France?

As France introduces a strict vaccine pass system for entry to many everyday venues such as cafés and bars, several readers have asked us if they can be vaccinated or get a booster while in France on holiday.

Patient receiving the Covid vaccine in France
Patient receiving the Covid vaccine in France. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

Question: I’m from the US and have a trip to Paris booked in March. Here it’s not possible to get a booster just four months after a second dose, so as I understand it I won’t be able to use the French vaccine pass. Can’t I just get my booster while I’m on holiday in France?

This is quite an ironic question, since if we scroll back to January 2021 France was widely derided as having one of the western world’s slowest vaccine rollouts and people were asking us whether they could leave France to get vaccinated elsewhere.

What a difference a year makes. In the interval France has dramatically stepped up its vaccine rollout and now has a very efficient system and a 93 percent vaccination rate among over 12s.

It also has a strict vaccine pass system that requires people to be fully vaccinated in order to enter a wide range of venues including bars, cafés and tourist sites. Full details on how that works HERE.

And in order to use the vaccine pass you need to be ‘fully vaccinated ‘ – which in France also means having had a booster for most adults.

So if your home country is not offering a vaccine that meets the French specifications (either because it is using non-EMA approved vaccines like Sputnik or because its booster shot programme doesn’t move as fast as the French one) can you get your shots while here?

Technically, no.

France, in common with most countries, reserves its vaccines for residents. You don’t have to be a French citizen but you do have to be a resident of France.

So how strictly is this enforced?

In most cases, you will be asked to show your carte vitale when going for a vaccine appointment. This is the French health insurance card with a social security number that residents have in order to get publicly-funded healthcare. Obviously, tourists or visitors will not have this.

There is, however, a decree passed at the beginning of 2021 that states that residents of France who do not have a carte vitale should be vaccinated. This was originally intended for people in vulnerable situations such as the homeless or undocumented migrants, but it can also be used for people who have recently moved and don’t have the card yet (registering for the card can take more than six months). In this case you would usually be asked for proof of residency such as utility bills.

Feedback from readers of The Local suggest that some centres are more vigilant than others about checking residency paperwork, but we would suggest that tourists do not rely on this in order to get an extra dose while in France.

Member comments

  1. I’m under the impression that only fully vaccinated and passengers with a negative Covid test are allowed to board a plane to France.

  2. I could name 10 Americans not resident in France who received their boosters in France… myself and husband included. No questions asked. No proof of residency… only a CDC card as proof of the first 2 jabs. In short, the French are bending over backwards to give anyone and everyone a vaccine if they want it.

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For members

TAX

Reader question: Do I need to declare my non-French bank accounts?

Tax declaration season is upon us and one issue that often catches foreigners in France unaware is bank accounts in their home countries - we explain.

Reader question: Do I need to declare my non-French bank accounts?

Question: I’m living in France and filling in my French tax declaration and have come to the section on foreign bank accounts, investments and holdings – I don’t have shares or investments outside France, are they really asking me about my old account back in the UK that has about 27p in it?

The annual French tax declaration is a comprehensive document, compulsory for almost everyone living in France, in which you’re asked about all your financial affairs. When looking at exactly what you have to declare, the short answer is – everything. For example;

  • If you’re working in France you need to declare your French income – even if you’re an employee and your salary has already been taxed at source.
  • If you’re not working you need to declare all your income, even if it comes from outside France eg a UK or US pension.
  • If you get any income from outside France – eg rental income on a property in another country – you need to declare that too.

For full details on what to declare – click HERE.

It’s important to note that declaring your income does not necessarily mean you will have to pay tax on it – France has dual taxation agreements with most countries so that if you have already paid tax on your income in another country, you won’t be taxed on it again – but you still have to tell the French taxman about it.

When it comes to bank accounts, you also need to declare any bank account that has your name on it – including joint accounts – that are held outside France.

This is in the section of the form for foreign earnings and investments, so it’s easy to miss but it’s an important one for foreign residents, who are likely to have at least one account in their home country.

Ask the expert: How to fill out each section of the French tax declaration

You need to declare each account that that you have – the bank/building society that it is with, the account number and the date you opened the account, so it’s worth getting this information together before you start filling out the form.

You don’t need to declare how much is in each account, but you do need to be careful to declare all accounts that you have – even if they are dormant or only have a tiny amount of cash in them.

If you have cryptocurrency accounts you need to declare them too, although they have their own section.

If you have a PayPal account you might also need to declare that – although only if you use it for business or you have spent more than €10,000 with it in the last year.

Finally if you have insurance policies such as life insurance in another country you need to declare that too.

The good news is that if you declare online, your declaration remembers last year’s information so you don’t need to fill out all this information from scratch every year, but if you have opened a new account in the past year, don’t forget to add it to your declaration.

What happens if you don’t declare them?

You might think that your 27p back in the UK is not very important, in the scheme of things, but not declaring a bank account or investment scheme carries with it hefty penalties – they range from €1,500 to a maximum of €10,000, with €3,000 being the most commonly applied amount. And that fine is per bank account, so if you have several accounts that you haven’t declared the fines can quickly add up.

International money-laundering legislation means that banks and governments share a lot more information these days, so it’s definitely not worth the risk. 

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