How the rules of the French health pass change

Saturday (15/1) marks a major change in France’s health pass, with passes deactivating for people who have not yet had a booster shot of the Covid vaccine. Here’s what changes and how you can reactivate your pass.

In France, Covid health passes are required to enter a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, gyms, cinemas, tourist sites and long-distance trains.

Most people use the TousAntiCovid app on their phones to show their health pass, but paper certificates are also accepted.

Three types of proof are accepted; proof of vaccination, proof of recent recovery from Covid or proof of a negative Covid test less than 24 hours old. In France, where almost 90 percent of the adult population is vaccinated, most people use proof of vaccination.

However from Saturday, January 15th a big change comes into force – people who had their second vaccine dose more than seven months ago will see their pass deactivated if they have not had a booster shot.

This policy came into effect for over 65s on December 15th, and is now expanded to all over 18s. Teenagers aged 12-17 can continue to use their health pass without a booster.

These rules also apply to any tourists, visitors or people vaccinated outside France who wish to use the health pass. 

Will my pass deactivate?

The easiest way to see if your health pass will be deactivated is to use the TousAntiCovid app – those who do so will receive an on-screen notification if their pass is set to expire. 

You can also double-check by clicking on the “Ouvrir mon carnet” or “Open my wallet” section of the app. If your pass is set to expire, your most recent in-app vaccination certificate will carry a yellow warning informing you of the deadline to get your booster dose. 

There is also an online simulator to tell you when your health pass will be deactivated – this is particularly useful for people who do not use the TousAntiCovid app.

This applies only to people who use vaccination certificates for their health pass (although other changes are coming that relate to people who use negative tests, see below).

What if I can’t get my booster because I had Covid?

The Omicron wave struck just as booster shots were opening up to the whole population, so many people ended up catching the virus before they could book a booster appointment.

You become eligible for a booster three months after infection but if your health pass expires before that date, then you can upload your positive Covid test (PCR or antigen) to the Tous Anti Covid app. The test certificate is valid for six months after infection (although if you are using it for international travel you will need to download a separate ‘certificate of recovery’).

The app deactivates for two months after uploading a positive certificate – as you are not considered a risk for two months after infection you won’t receive any notifications if you are in contact with an infected person – but you can still use it at health pass venues during this time.

A paper certificate for a positive test can also be used – it must be more than 11 days old but less than 6 months old.

How to keep the pass activated

If you use the TousAntiCovid app to hold your health pass, it is important to note that it doesn’t automatically update – once you get your booster you need to upload the new certificate in order to keep the pass active.

You can do this by scanning the QR code on your vaccination certificate from the vaccination site – whether it is a vaccination centre, pharmacy, clinic or elsewhere.

Some vaccination sites no longer hand out these certificates routinely, instead submitting information about your status to Assurance Maladie. If this is the case, you must download the certificate from the Ameli site to receive the QR code, which can then be scanned into the TousAntiCovid app. 

If you do not yet have a carte vitale and are therefore not registered with Ameli, make sure you ask for a paper certificate at the vaccine centre.

If you do not use the TousAntiCovid app, you will need to carry the paper certificates proving that you have been fully vaccinated and have received a booster, in order to access health pass venues. 

What happens if my health pass deactivates? 

If your health pass does deactivate, it is not a disaster because it’s easy to reactivate. 

If you have already had the booster or tested positive in the last six months, simply upload the relevant certificate.

Otherwise, you will need to get the booster shot – if you are over 65, you do not even need to book an appointment to receive your booster. You can simply walk into any vaccination site and you will be given priority treatment.

You can read our guide on how to get a booster dose HERE

The reactivation of the health pass is supposed to be immediate (unless this is only your second shot, in which case you must wait seven days). But because of a computer error, a small minority of people who receive their booster dose may also have to wait seven days before the TousAntiCovid app recognises their new vaccination status. 

If this is the case for you, you can still show paper proof of your first two jabs and booster jab which will permit you access to any health pass venue.  

If you are having difficulty reactivating the pass you can, as a temporary measure, get a Covid test and show that in order to access health pass venues, although tests are only valid for 24 hours.

What about international travel?

It’s important to note that all of the above only applies to the domestic French health pass, which is used to access venues like bars, cafés and long-distance train journeys.

For international travel the rules remain the same as before and you can be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ without having a booster.

If your health pass has deactivated while you were out of France you can show your vaccination certificate at the border. Non-EU vaccination certificates are accepted at the border, although you will need to get them converted before you can use them for the domestic health pass – find out more HERE.

Is this the last change to the health pass?

Afraid not!

We already know of one definite change – from February 15th, the deadline to get your booster shrinks from seven months to four months. People will become eligible for the shot three months after their second dose. Like the current change, this applies to anyone over the age of 18, including tourists.

A second change is also coming, subject to parliamentary approval.

The government is seeking to transform the health pass into a vaccine pass, meaning that holding a negative Covid test will not be a valid substitute for vaccination when it comes to gaining entry into existing health pass venues. 

For people who currently use a vaccination certificate for their health pass, nothing will change. But unvaccinated people will no longer be able to use negative tests and will therefore be barred from a range of leisure and cultural venues.

This is expected to come into effect in late January, although a start date has not yet been confirmed.