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Traveling to France? Here's what to know about booster and testing requirements

April 01, 2022
5 min read
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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 shots

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.

A pharmacy in Paris offering COVID-19 vaccinations. (Photo by Kiran Ridley/Getty Images)

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.

Commuters wait for a bus outside a pharmacy offering COVID-19 vaccinations and tests in Paris. (Photo by Kiran Ridley/Getty Images)

Testing protocols

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.

(Image by Rudzhan Nagiev/Getty Images)

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.

View of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Vaccine proof

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.

CDC vaccination card. (Photo by ArtistGNDphotography/Getty Images)

Have a question for next week? Email me at caroline.tanner@thepointsguy.com or tips@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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