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COVID-19 HEALTH PASS

Your questions answered on France’s 4-month booster shot rule

Most people - including tourists and visitors - now need a booster shot in order to use the French vaccine pass. Here's how it works.

Your questions answered on France's 4-month booster shot rule
From Wednesday, access to the vaccine pass will be limited for people who have not had booster shots. Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

What changed?

On Wednesday, February 15th, booster shot rules were tightened up.

The vaccine pass was already required in France to access a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, ski lifts, tourist sites, gyms, leisure centres and long-distance buses or trains.

The pass initially required a booster after seven months, but on February 15th this fell to four months.

That means that anyone who has not already had a booster shot, and for whom their second vaccine dose was more than four months ago, is no longer eligible for the vaccine pass.

If you live in France, you can get a booster shot three months after your second dose.

Who needs a booster?

The deactivation concerns only those who have not had a booster shot.

If you have already had a booster your pass will remain active – even if you got your booster more than four months after your second dose. There is at present no requirement for a second booster shot.

Does this apply to tourists and visitors?

Yes, the booster shot rule applies to everyone, both French residents and people who are visiting France.

Boosters are not required to enter the country. At the border presentation of a certificate of full vaccination – in most cases two doses – is sufficient.

However, once you are in the country you need a vaccine pass if you intend to visit bars, cafés, ski lifts, cinemas, theatres, gyms, leisure centres, tourist sites, large events, sports matches or use long-distance trains, buses or domestic flights.

If you are visiting from outside France and have not had a booster shot and more than four months have passed since your second dose, you may not be able to access the vaccine pass, which will severely curtail your holiday activities.

What about children?

Children under the age of 12 do not need any type of pass.

Children aged between 12 and 15 need a health pass – which can use either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test.

Children aged between 16 and 18 need a vaccine pass, but do not need a booster.

Anyone aged 18 and over needs a vaccine pass with a booster.

Full details HERE.

What if I caught Covid before I could get the booster?

If you have recently had Covid, it’s possible to use a certificate of recovery instead of a booster shot.

The certificate lasts for four months after you had Covid, after that you will need a booster.

Full details on how to get the certificate HERE.

What if my country doesn’t offer a booster after four months?

Not all countries offer booster shots within four months of getting the second dose, with some people having to wait for up to six months until they are eligible.

The Local has raised this issue with the French government, but the answer appears to be ‘tough’ – not being eligible for a vaccine in your home country doesn’t mean that the French four-month limit does not apply.

The American Embassy has issued a travel warning over this issue, advising anyone travelling from the US to check carefully before departing that they will be eligible for the French vaccine pass, or face a severely constrained holiday.

Will my vaccination certificate be accepted in France?

If you were vaccinated in the EU, the Schengen zone or the UK, your vaccination certificate is compatible with the French system.

However if you were vaccinated in a non-EU/Schengen/UK country, you will need to convert your vaccination certificate to a French code once you arrive in France – here’s how.

Will my positive test result be accepted in France?

If you intend to rely on a recent Covid infection rather than a booster shot, check first whether your test result will be valid in France.

If you tested positive in the EU or Schengen zone and got a PCR or antigen test, then your test certificate will be accepted. Home test kit results are not accepted.

If you tested positive in the UK then PCR tests will be accepted, but not all types of Lateral Flow Test will – full details here.

If you tested positive in Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Cape Verde, El Salvador, the Faroe Islands, Georgia, Israel, Iceland, Lebanon, Lichtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Saint-Marino, Serbia, Singapour, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, Uruguay and Vatican City then your test result will be accepted, provided the results certificate has a QR code on it. The French government has created a platform here where you can check if your certificate is compatible with the French system.

Positive tests from countries not listed above will almost certainly not be accepted in France.

Full details HERE

What if I can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons?

In a small number of cases, vaccination is not possible for medical reasons. In this case you need a Certificat de contre-indicationfull details here on how to get that.

Can I get a booster while I am in France?

If your home country doesn’t offer boosters within the four-month limit, is it possible to come to France and get a booster here?

The French vaccination programme is intended for residents of France. It may be possible in some cases for tourists or visitors to get a booster shot while here, but our advice is that people should not rely on that if they intend to travel to France for a holiday. 

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For members

MONEY

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting France

Ever wondered how to avoid paying exorbitant roaming fees when travelling in France? There are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by a big bill.

How to avoid huge 'roaming' phone bills while visiting France

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country than you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but non-Europeans need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with “Three” for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in France. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in France.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:

Orange Holiday

This is one of France’s largest and most reputable telephone companies. The “Orange Holiday” SIM card exists specifically for tourists. At €39.99, you will get a SIM card that will enable you to make and receive calls and texts from a French phone number. You will have unlimited calls and texts within Europe, as well as two hours of calls and 1000 texts outside of Europe (for messaging people at home, for example). You will also have access to 30GB of data in Europe. 

The initial plan is valid for 14 days, and begins as soon as you begin calling, texting, or surfing the web. In order to get this SIM card, you can go into any Orange store and request it. Some supermarkets and airport kiosks might also carry this SIM card.

SFR

SFR is another well-known French phone company. Their pre-paid SIM card is called “La Carte,” and they offer several different options based on how much internet, calling, and texting you want access to. The basic plan is for 30 days and starts at €9.99 a month, which includes a €10 credit. Once the card is in your cellphone, you can add on a top-up option as needed.

You can buy this SIM card either online or in an SFR store. 

La Poste Mobile

This is the French phone company that operates in conjunction to the post office. What is especially convenient about this SIM card is that you should be able to get it at any post office in France. Plans range from €5 to €30 based on the number of days and the amount of calling, texting, and internet you are looking for. 

Bouygues Telecom

Finally, Bouygues Telecom also has some offers for prepaid SIM cards. Their plan, the “My European SIM” is especially made for tourists. It costs €39.90 and allows you unlimited calling and texting in France and Europe. The plan offers 20Gb of data. You can plan ahead for your trip by ordering this card online, but you can only activate it once you arrive in France.

The card actually comes along with a tourist guide (offered in 10 languages) and a map of Paris Metro.

Contract

Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in France, it is important to be sure you are buying a pre-paid SIM, rather than accidentally signing up for a monthly plan.

Some mobile phone carriers offer very affordable monthly plans, which might look appealing to tourists. However, these plans will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, and many involve complex processes, including sending a registered cancellation letter (in French), in order to cancel the plan.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.

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