Applications for France’s digital health pass are temporarily closed

Nov 2, 2021

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As of Nov. 2, the application process for Americans wishing to obtain the French health pass has closed. Upon arrival to France, travelers are advised to take a negative antigen or PCR test to secure a 72-hour pass.

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France’s Tous Anti Covid app. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Since announcing the French health pass also known as the “pass sanitaire,” the method for obtaining the pass has changed four times — the latest of which has resulted in temporarily barring Americans from fulfilling the necessary vaccination requirement to go virtually anywhere indoors in France through at least July 2022.

What got us here

What initially seemed like a simple enough process has evolved into an ongoing mess for travelers eager to get their croissant fill in Paris.

Back in July, the U.S. Embassy in France advised vaccinated Americans heading to France to take their CDC-issued vaccination card to a French pharmacy for conversion to an online French vaccination record system. Following that advice, many TPG readers said French pharmacists refused to assist them or had no idea what they were talking about (including one who claimed a pharmacist cursed him out at such a request).

In light of the complications, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the embassy issued updated guidance advising travelers in early August to submit applications for the health pass via email:

“In accordance with the decision by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, we have put in place with the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs a specific system for non-EU tourists who are already in France to receive a QR code which will be valid as a French COVID certificate,” French Minister of State for Tourism, French Nationals Abroad and Francophonie Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said in a press statement on Aug. 9. “Foreign tourists can submit their applications. To request a QR code, simply e-mail us with proof of vaccination, an identity document, the downloadable application form and your airline ticket.”

Related: My experience getting a COVID-19 test in France

On Aug. 27, they unveiled what was supposed to be a more streamlined online application system via two online applications — one for French nationals living or vaccinated abroad and one for everyone else, including non-European foreign nationals and tourists.

However, because they were presumably being inundated with applications from tourists wishing to visit (more than 4.5 million applications to date), the French government then announced yet another new online application for “non-European foreigners” to request a conversion of a foreign vaccination certificate into a French health pass. But there was a catch: Applications were only processed for travelers already in France or who planned to be in the next few days.

Essentially, travelers were told not to expect to receive the health pass ahead of their trip, even though it was very much necessary to enjoy most activities in France. As you might suspect, this created a lot of issues. Numerous TPG readers all detailed their unique ordeals with both the second and third iterations.

Applications now closed to US travelers

This brings us to the last week of late October, when the online application portal appeared to prevent any submission of applications outside of French nationals.

Related: Here’s how you can show proof of vaccination in France

(Screenshot courtesy of the French government)

The French Embassy in Washington, D.C. appeared just as baffled as the rest of us.

“I think there has been some misunderstanding. The consulate here has NOTHING TO DO with the applications for QR Codes, which are all centralized in Paris,” a spokesperson for the embassy said via email on Nov. 1. “There has been no change in the procedures, and your readers just have to apply on the links below and in a few days, they shall have an answer.”

The aforementioned “corrected” link was anything but — it simply directed you to apply for the pass as if you were a French national, which was helpful to no one but the French.

(Screenshot courtesy of the French government)

At this point, a second press person from the embassy confirmed the procedure had been temporarily halted as of Oct. 31.

“They are not taking new applications,” the embassy said via phone on Nov. 1. “We always advise them to fly to France and obtain a temporary QR code that could be generated at a pharmacy.”

The spokesperson was referring to submitting a negative COVID-19 test for a temporary pass in lieu of a health pass. When the application process was live, such a temporary pass was a potential fail-safe. But at this time, it’s the only option for Americans traveling to France who don’t already have a valid health pass.

“This system is open to non-European foreign nationals, tourists and students enrolled in French higher education establishments who are already in France, arriving for the start of the academic year, or before 5 September for non-student foreign nationals,” the embassy said on Oct. 5. “Requests concerning subsequent arrivals will be processed at a later date.”

When I cross-checked with the first embassy employee who suggested a “misunderstanding” of sorts, I got this response: “Yes, you are right, this is the change that has just been done.”

Still confused? So are we.

Right now, U.S. travelers should expect to have to go through the process of getting a health pass once already in France since the application is closed to non-French nationals. However, note that it’s a risk to travel there without guarantee of being able to get the temporary health pass needed to participate in many indoor activities.

Related: Protests erupt as France introduces new vaccination requirements

Featured photo of visitors presenting their digital health pass at the Gaumont Multiplex Odyseum Cinema in Montpellier, France, by Pascal Guyot/AFP via Getty Images.

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