Traveling to France? Here’s what to know about booster and testing requirements
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Though we took a brief departure last week to detail what’s required of travelers to visit other countries outside of France, I’m back this week with story No. 12. It’s dedicated entirely to providing logistical information to aid in traveling to France with as much assurance as possible.
By the way, I recently decided I had spent more than enough time writing about France from the confines of my home, without having been on the ground recently myself. I’m pleased to report that I’ll rectify my multiyear absence and return to France, for both work and fun, later this spring.
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At that time, I anticipate providing a firsthand perspective of what traveling to France actually looks like at the moment that will be helpful to share here.
Booster is required to be seen as ‘fully vaccinated’
The No. 1 question I’ve been asked is whether a booster shot is required to be considered “fully vaccinated,” which is necessary to enter France currently without having to also participate in predeparture COVID-19 testing.
Admittedly, the language around booster requirements has been a bit unclear, particularly as it relates to one exception for Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients ages 12-18, which I previously detailed in-depth and address below as well.
When previous “vaccine pass” requirements were dropped earlier this month, no longer limiting access to public spaces to boosted travelers, the question around boosters shifted to become whether a booster was still necessary to visit the country. The answer to this question depends on how much time has elapsed since the final dose of your COVID-19 vaccine.
Timing of booster shot
In the eyes of the French government, American travelers age 12 and older must fulfill two vaccine-related requirements to be treated as fully vaccinated.
The first is that you must show proof of receipt of either two doses of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of the J&J vaccine.
Regardless of whether you received a single- or double-dose vaccine, if nine months or more have elapsed since your final dose, you must also show proof of a booster in order to maintain a full vaccination status.
However, there’s an exception for younger travelers between 12 and 18 years old who were vaccinated with the J&J vaccine: These travelers do not need to be boosted in order to be seen as fully vaccinated.
Travelers in this age group vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca must have proof of two shots to meet vaccination requirements.
“For travelers between 12 and 18, the definition of fully vaccinated is now two shots of an mRNA or one shot of J&J,” according to a spokesperson for Atout France, the French tourism organization.
“Travelers who received the booster more than nine months after their second dose may still enter France, so long as one week has passed since they received the booster dose ,” per the U.S. Embassy in France.
Applicable entry protocols are based on age, too
Remember, proof of vaccination entry protocols only apply to travelers age 12 and older, meaning travelers ages 0-12 do not need to be fully vaccinated to visit France.
But all unvaccinated travelers, age 12 and older, must adhere to current testing rules, which ask travelers to show results of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours or a rapid test administered within 48 hours of boarding their flight to France.
Airline officials will ask for your test results (if applicable) during the check-in process for your flight either online or at the airport.
1 testing exception
Travelers who recently recovered from COVID-19, specifically within 11 days to six months of entering France, may visit France without taking a predeparture test by showing proof of the original positive test result, as noted by the embassy in its guidance outlining entry and exit requirements for U.S. citizens.
CDC card is sufficient
Any authority during the predeparture process of traveling to or through France requesting vaccination proof — i.e., the airport or a train station — should accept the vaccination record card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as proof of being vaccinated in the United States. Other than identifying documents, such as a passport (which you will already have since France is a foreign country), you should not need any further information to certify your vaccination status.
“The CDC card is sufficient for entry,” according to the embassy.
Featured photo of a cafe in Paris by Oliver Strewe/Getty Images.
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