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EXPLAINED: The vaccine pass rules for travelling to France with children

With the introduction of the vaccine pass, family travel to France has become more complicated due to the vaccination rules for children - here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The vaccine pass rules for travelling to France with children
Children in France may need a vaccine pass. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP

If you’re travelling to France you may need to show proof of vaccination at the border, depending where you are travelling from, but once here you will certainly need a vaccine pass if you want to access venues such as bars, cafés, restaurants, ski lifts, leisure centres, tourist sites or long-distance travel.

And this also applies to under 18s.

You can find full details of the rules for entering the country HERE.

Here are the rules regarding the vaccine pass.

Under 12s

If your children are younger than 12 then they do not require any type of pass in order to enter the venues listed above.

Aged between 12 and 15

If your children are aged between 12 years and two months and 15 years, then they will need a health pass to access the above venues.

Slightly different to the vaccine pass, the health pass requires one of three things; proof of full Covid vaccination, proof of recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test taken within the previous 24 hours.

‘Full vaccination’ here means two doses of either Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. A single dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca is not accepted as full vaccination and kids who have only had one dose will have to follow the rules for unvaccinated people. The child must be at least seven days after their second dose.

Recent recovery from Covid requires a positive test result more than 11 days old but less than six months old. From February 15th, this changes to a test certificate more than 11 days old but less than four months old. The test must be either a PCR or antigen test, tests done at home are not accepted.

If the child tested positive in France or the EU, then their test result can be uploaded straight onto the TousAntiCovid app, those who tested positive outside the EU face a more complicated process – full details HERE.

For children for whom the first two options are not possible, there is the opportunity to take a test. This must be either a PCR or antigen test, not a test taken at home, and the result can be no more than 24 hours old, meaning regular trips to the pharmacy for testing for families who are on holiday. For those who are not resident in France, tests cost €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.

Aged between 16 and 18 

Children aged between 16 and 18 need a vaccine pass, which means that a negative Covid test cannot be accepted.

Instead, they need to be either fully vaccinated or have recently tested positive for Covid, and the conditions for those are the same as those outlined above. 

Over 18s may require a booster in order to be considered fully vaccinated, but for the 16-18 age group, boosters are not required.

Aged 18 and over

Teenagers aged 18 or above are counted as adults, which means they need a vaccine pass and may need a booster shot to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’.

Booster shots are required once more than seven months has passed since the second dose, a limit that falls to four months on February 15th.

The time limits concern only those who have not had a booster – people who are boosted but have a gap longer than four months between the second shot at the booster will be able to get a valid pass.

Medical exemptions 

There exists within the French vaccine pass rules the possibility to present a Certificat de contre-indication for people who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.

We explain the process in full HERE, but it is so complicated as to be virtually inaccessible to people who are not resident in France.

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French parliament blocks return of the health pass for international travel

France’s new government has suffered an early setback as Parliament blocked a key part of the new Covid protocol bill, removing a clause that could have seen the return of the health pass at the French border.

French parliament blocks return of the health pass for international travel

The veille et de sécurité sanitaire bill is a roadmap for how the government intends to handle the Covid situation after the current health state of emergency ends on July 31st. 

The proposed legislation had provided for the possibility, if required, to restore the health pass for travel in and out of France, meaning travellers over the age of 12 would again have to show proof they have been vaccinated against the virus, have a recent negative PCR test, or have sufficient immunity after recently contracting the virus, in order to be allowed to enter France.

But, during a heated first reading – the atmosphere in the chamber was likened to a football match – MPs voted to remove the key article on the return of the health pass for travellers entering France from other countries.

The modified bill was adopted by 221 votes to 187 and 24 abstentions – mostly by MPs from the left – in the final vote on Tuesday night. 

The bill – which in its current form merely allows authorities to continue to collect health data on screening tests – must now go to the Senate.

“The times are serious,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Twitter, as she promised to “fight for the spirit of responsibility to prevail in the Senate.”

Health Minister François Braun also promised to “fight” in the Senate to restore the removed article to the bill, which he said had been “emptied of part of its content”. 

On July 8th, France passed 150,000 Covid-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020. 

The country has seen a spike in infections since the end of June, due to the presence of the highly contagious Omicron and subvariants.

National health agency Santé Publique France reported around 120,000 infections per day over the week.

More than 1,000 patients with Covid are in intensive care, while over 17,000 remain in hospital.

France’s current health rules specify the use of the health pass only for hospitals and nursing homes – it is no longer in use for everyday venues like bars, restaurants, gyms or cinemas.

Masks are “strongly recommended” on public transport, but are only compulsory in hospitals and health establishments.

International arrivals from certain countries are required to show proof of either vaccination or a recent negative test, but most of the world is now on France’s ‘green’ list of countries with minimal travel restrictions.