France’s Vaccine Pass (Pass Vaccinal): Everything You Need to Know



France’s Vaccine Pass (Pass Vaccinal): Everything You Need to Know

* IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of March 14th, 2022 the Vaccine Pass is now suspended in France until further notice. Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result (taken within 24 hours) will still be required to enter hospitals and care homes. However, no pass will now be required for bars, restaurants, ski lifts, tourist sites, gyms, long-distance and all other leisure venues and public events.

The following article is for reference purposes only; it does not reflect the current rules in place in France.

As part of the ongoing measures in the fight against Covid-19, France’s Vaccine Pass (Pass Vaccinal) is now required for entrance to everything from concerts to restaurants. Whether you are a French resident or homeowner, or plan to travel to France, this pass will be one of your most important possessions when out and about in france. So, what do you need to know about the French Vaccine Pass?

What is the Vaccine Pass or Health Pass?

The Health Pass or Pass Sanitaire was initially launched in July, 2021, and was transformed into the Vaccine Pass  or Pass Vaccinal on January 24th, 2022. The pass is essentially a way of proving your Covid-19 vaccination status in order to enter public events and establishments. The Vaccine Pass is now part of French law and will continue to be used until a minimum of July 31st 2022, although it is likely to be extended beyond this date.

The Vaccine Pass isn’t a physical document – instead, it’s a scannable QR code accessed via a mobile phone app that can be presented and scanned upon entrance to public spaces.

Who Needs the French Vaccine Pass?

Anyone aged over 12 in France who wishes to attend large public events, use long-distance transport, or enter any of the establishments listed in our ‘Where Do I Need My Vaccine Pass?’ section below will need either a Health Pass or Vaccine Pass. Anyone aged 16 or over must have a Vaccine Pass; children aged 12 to 15 may still use the Health Pass. This applies not only to French citizens but to any foreign citizens visiting, travelling, or staying in France for any period of time.

Note that there is no legal obligation to obtain or carry a Vaccine Pass if you do not wish to enter or use any of the services and facilities that require the Pass.

How Do I Activate My French Vaccine Pass?

The French Vaccine Pass (or Health Pass for ages 12-15) is available on France’s TousAntiCovid app. After downloading the app onto your phone, click on the option ‘Scan a QR Code’ to scan your relevant document (see below). When you want to use your Pass Vaccinal, click on the option ‘My Wallet’, and you will see a scannable QR code – this is your Vaccine Pass.

In order to access the Vaccine Pass you must be fully vaccinated. There is no longer an option to activate your pass with a negative Covid-19 test (although there are some exceptions – see below).

Proof of Full Vaccination

Fully vaccinated in France means that you have received the full dose of an EU-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (including Covishield) or Johnson & Johnson. Note that Sinopharm and Sputnik vaccines are not currently approved) AND, if relevant, a booster (see below).

If you are getting vaccinated for the first time, you must wait until 7 days after your second vaccine dose (for AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines), or 28 days after the single-dose Janssen to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. However, booster vaccines can be added immediately to your pass with no wait period.

Booster requirements:

As of February 15th, 2022, all over 18s must receive a booster shot if within four months of the date of their final vaccine in order to maintain access to France’s Health Pass. Essentially, from these dates, ‘fully vaccinated’ will mean ‘three vaccination shots’ or two vaccinations for those who previously recovered from Covid (i.e. 1 x original vaccine shot + a booster). This rule also applies to visitors to France and those vaccinated outside of France who wish to gain access to the pass.

Find out everything you need to know about getting a Covid booster in France.

To activate your Pass, simply scan the QR code on your French-issued vaccination certificate into the TousAntiCovid app.

If you were vaccinated in the EU

If you received your Covid vaccine and booster in another EU or Schengen zone country, you can also scan the QR code on your vaccination certificate into the TousAntiCovid app.

If you were vaccinated in the UK

For UK residents or those who received their vaccine in the UK, you can now scan your NHS vaccine QR code directly into the French TousAntiCovid app. Note that this only works with the most recent versions of the NHS Covid Pass (those which have two QR codes), so if you don’t have one of these, you will need to download a new one from the NHS app or website. NHS Covid Passes are only valid for 30 days after download, so make sure you scan it before it runs out. If not, don’t worry – you can simply download a new one.

If you were vaccinated in the United States or a non-EU country

For those vaccinated in the United States, Canada, Australia, or any other non-EU country, you should first check that your vaccine is one of the above-mentioned vaccines approved by the EU.

As of Nov 2021, it is no longer possible to access the Pass Sanitaire prior to arrival in France – instead you must bring your original copy of your vaccination certificate (showing that you are fully vaccinated in accordance with the above guidelines). In order to activate your Pass Sanitaire, you will need to take this certificate to one of the eligible pharmacies, who will validate your certificate and give you a QR code. This can then be scanned into the TousAntiCovid app to activate your Pass Sanitaire. There is often a charge for this, but fees are capped at €36.

Find out the full details here (in French). Note that you can’t do this at every pharmacy – you can search for your closest one via the before-mentioned link. For those flying into Paris, Pharmacy Bonassoli at Charles de Gaulle airport offers the service.

What if I can’t get vaccinated?

If you are not able to get vaccinated because you have a medical exemption, you can ask your doctor for an attestation de contre-indication, which will also grant you access to the vaccine pass.

If you can’t receive a vaccine dose because you have recently recovered from Covid-19, you will also be issued a certificate that can be scanned into the app. This will activate the pass for four months after the date of recovery, after which you must present proof of vaccination.

Can I Access the Vaccine Pass if I Have Recovered from Covid-19?

If have recently recovered from Covid-19, you can activate the Vaccine Pass using your positive Covid-19 test. In France, any positive PCR or antigen test (excluding home tests) can be used as a certificat de rétablissement (Certificate of Recovery) and scanned into the app. The certificate is valid from 11 days after the date you tested positive, and lasts for four months – after that you will need a booster to maintain access to the Vaccine Pass.

This rule also applies to visitors from overseas, but your positive Covid-19 test result must have been received from an EU-approved test provider in order for it to be recognised by the app. Find a full list of those accepted here.

Are there any exemptions?

There are certain exemptions where the unvaccinated may be granted temporary access to the Vaccine Pass upon presentation of a negative Covid-19 test.

24-hour access to the pass may be granted using a negative Covid-19 test in the following instances:

  • Children between the ages of 12 and 15
  • For unvaccinated people who need to access non-emergency medical care
  • For unvaccinated people who wish to visit a hospital or nursing home
  • For unvaccinated people who need to access inter-regional public transport for an “imperative reason of a family or health nature”, for example, visiting a dying relative or attending a funeral.

What if I don’t have a phone/internet or don’t want to download the app?

Paper documents or print-outs of your vaccination certificate, test certificate, or proof of recovery (which should all have a scannable QR code) can also be presented in place of the Health Pass. Print-outs are also available via the app for situations where you might not have your phone or internet access.

Where Do I Need My Vaccine Pass?

The French Vaccine Pass is required to access a number of events, leisure facilities, and public services all across France. Here’s a breakdown of where you will need to present your Pass Vaccinal.

Cultural venues

A Health Pass is now required for access to all cultural and leisure venues, including those with a capacity of fewer than 50 people.

  • Concert venues, festivals and sports matches
  • Cinemas, theatres, and stadiums
  • Gyms, spas, swimming pools and outdoor sports venues
  • Nightclubs, casinos, and dance venues
  • Zoos, Amusement parks, and tourist sites
  • Museums, galleries, and cultural centres
  • Churches and places of worship if attending an event or concert (but not for worship)

Bars, cafés, and restaurants

Access to all bars, cafés, and restaurants, including those within hotels and campsites, and regardless of their capacity, will require a pass to enter. This is applicable for both outdoor and indoor seating. Canteens and takeaway restaurants will not need to implement the Pass.

Shops and shopping centres

Contrary to expectations, the Pass will not be required for entrance to shops or shopping centres less than 20,000 square metres in size. For large malls and shopping centres, the Pass will not be applied on a national level – instead, it will be left to local préfectures to decide whether to implement the Pass based on the local Covid situation.

Hospitals and retirement homes

Anyone visiting or seeking non-urgent treatment at any hospital, medical centre, or retirement home will need to present a pass. This does apply to scheduled appointments at medical centres; however, it does not apply to visiting your local GP or médecin traitant.

Long-distance travel

You will need to present your Pass on TGV (Inoui and Ouigo), Intercité trains (including night trains), international trains leaving from France, and long-distance buses and coaches such as Flixbus and Blablacar Bus.

You will not need a pass Sanitaire for regional TER or Transilien trains, Metro and RER trains in Paris, and local buses and trams in cities throughout France.

Overseas travel

If you have activated your Pass Vaccinal in the TousAntiCovid app, you will also be automatically issued an EU Health Passport or EU Digital Covid certificate. This is another scannable QR code available in the ‘My Wallet’ section of the app. This Passport is required for access to all flights in and around the EU.

How to Use Your French Vaccine Pass

Using your Vaccine Pass is as simple as presenting your scannable QR code. At bars, restaurants, and cultural venues, this will likely take place at the entrance or accueil (reception) by members of staff, while for events and festivals, these checks will probably be undertaken by dedicated security officials. Your QR code will be scanned granting you entrance. Random checks are not expected to be carried out once you have gained entrance to an event or establishment.

When using long-distance transport, checks will take place at stations, along with random checks on-board, so you should be prepared to present your Pass at any time. For night trains or longer trips, you may also be issued a wristband to indicate that your Pass has been verified, ensuring you are not disturbed during your trip.

Note that as of Monday 24 Jan, 2022, Vaccine Pass establishments now have the right to ask for ID alongside your pass if there is reason to believe that it the person presenting the pass is not who they say they are.

What happens if you don’t have a Pass Sanitaire or Pass Vaccinal?

If you fail to present a valid Pass Sanitaire (12-15s only) or Pass Vaccinal, you will simply be denied entry to the event or location in question. While businesses and establishments will be subject to fines for failing to uphold these security measures, there are currently no fines in place for individuals without a Pass Vaccinal.

Fines and refunds on long-distance travel

An exception to this is for travel on long-distance trains and coaches where the Vaccine Pass is required. Passengers found onboard without the necessary documentation will be fined €135 for violation of the Vaccine Pass rules.

Fraudulent Health Passes

Steep fines apply for anyone caught using a fake certificate, fraudulent vaccine pass, or a pass in someone else’s name. The fines include €1,ooo for anyone caught using a fake pass, plus €750 for anyone caught lending their pass to someone else. Creating a fake pass could mean fines up to €75,000 and five years in jail.

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FrenchEntrée's Digital Editor, Zoë is also a freelance journalist who has written for the Telegraph, HuffPost, and CNN, and a guidebook updater for the Rough Guide to France and Rough Guide to Dordogne & Lot. She lives in the French countryside just outside of Nantes.

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  • Terence George
    2022-01-25 09:47:24
    Terence George
    Working in care in South West Wales & having all 3 jabs in Wales NHS Wales don't have a single covid pass, when I print off mine it is 3 different codes on two pieces of a4, my residency is in la coquille dordogne, how would I scan my passes to the French one