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

Jul 21, 2021

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Editor’s note: This story was updated on July 22, 2021. It was originally published on July 21.

Since French President Emmanuel Macron introduced new COVID-19 regulations in response to the delta variant on July 12, many TPG readers have asked how to comply with the country’s digital health pass.

The mandates, which will start in August, will include limiting cafes, bars and shopping centers; public places with more than 50 people; and public transit trains and airplanes to those who are vaccinated or have recently tested negative for COVID-19. Unvaccinated Americans are permitted to enter the country by showing a negative PCR test or rapid test taken within 72 hours prior to departure for France.

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Use your CDC card to get a digital health pass at a French pharmacy

To obtain a health pass that will be necessary to do most things, the U.S. Embassy in France says a traveler must show one of the following:

  1. Proof of full vaccination.
  2. A negative PCR test, the results of which are good for 72 hours post-test.
  3. A negative antigen test, the results of which are good for 48 hours post-test.

Read more: Protests erupt as France introduces new vaccination requirements

Although the white card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is valid for proof of vaccination, it does not serve as a health pass. Therefore, travelers vaccinated in the U.S. with a CDC card must bring said card with them to France, and locate “any willing French doctor or pharmacist (who) can enter the vaccination information in the French system, even for people who do not have a French social security number or carte vitale.”

This will generate a printout with a QR code that will then allow you to create a paper or electronic version of the health pass through the French TousAntiCovid app.

TPG writer Andrew Kunsesh detailed his experience getting a PCR test in June: “Walking into a French pharmacy is the most common way to get a test. Many pharmacies offer antigen tests free of charge to foreigners and residents and promise results in 30 minutes. This is how I was tested in Nice and had a seamless experience.”

Read more: My experience getting a COVID-19 test in France

Your CDC card may suffice

If you are unable to obtain a digital health pass or elect not to, you may be able to still gain access to cafes, restaurants, museums, etc., by showing your CDC card, depending on who is checking.

“Just showing my card on my iPhone worked too,” Benet Wilson, a TPG senior editor, said of her trip to Paris last week.

(Photo by Benet Wilson/The Points Guy)

“I’ve done a little unscientific research by reaching out to a handful of restaurants that we frequent when we’re in Paris (we own a second home there),” TPG reader Annette Cartozian said via email. “So far, three of the seven I’ve contacted have responded, and all three said they will happily accept our CDC cards (and for Americans to please come!).”

A fourth restaurant let her know that they are awaiting official details from the French government regarding what they can legally accept as proof of vaccination.

“The information currently out there is confusing, conflicting and in constant flux,” the restaurant said. “I’m sure by Aug. 1, we will have a clearer picture, but travelers heading over in the next week or two are pulling their hair out trying to get the final word!”

Both the U.S. Embassy and French Consulate General in Washington, D.C., confirmed that the CDC-issued vaccination card is considered acceptable proof of vaccination for entry into France.

“Yes, I can confirm that the CDC-issued vaccination card is accepted for traveling and entering France,” the French Consular office in D.C. said. “When it comes to the health pass, we are waiting for clarifications from our authorities, as the legislation on the extension of the health pass in France is currently in discussion.”

Related: France adds US to ‘green’ list: I’m in the country now — here’s what it’s like and what to expect

Despite this, TPG reader Kathryn Fitzgerald said her CDC-issued vaccination card was rejected on an Air France flight from Miami to Paris last week. Air France did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

“Air France rejected our cards, saying they were not original, when in fact they were. They kept on saying we needed a QR code for our original cards to be accepted. They guided us to an airport located testing site,” Patrick told me via email. “And we had to get a PCR test or no flight — $180 a pop.”

Bottom line

The bottom line is that we still do not know if or when Americans will be able to access the EU Digital COVID Certificate and no digital equivalent has been introduced domestically. Things will likely become clearer when the majority of the French mandates take effect on Aug. 1, but if you want to play it safe, I would recommend bringing your CDC card with you to France (the hard copy, not just a picture) and stopping by a French pharmacy to ensure your info is secure in the French health system, before making an electronic version of the health pass. Once that is done, you shouldn’t have to worry about carrying around your CDC card for the rest of your trip.

Read more: France is open to Americans; here’s what it’s like now and when to go

Featured photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy.

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