Halloween brought a different sort of scare for tourists from the U.S. who want to visit France.
Fully vaccinated travelers from other countries can visit France as tourists, but to do everything from eating in restaurants to visiting the Louvre or Eiffel Tower, they need to have a French Health Pass, which verifies they are fully vaccinated. In the past, they were able to apply to the French government in advance for a health pass, but the government has now stopped accepting applications.
“As of October 31, the French government has changed the method in which U.S. citizens and other people vaccinated outside the European Union may obtain a French Health Pass,” the U.S. Embassy in France explains. “Under the new system, the health pass will be obtained from designated pharmacies for a fee of up to 36 euros [about $42].”
A Cautious Reopening
France underwent a stringent lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, and then finally reopened its borders to foreign tourists last summer.
However, after a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases, France began requiring a “passe sanitaire” — or health pass — for citizens and tourists alike to go up the Eiffel Tower, visit the Louvre or other museums, see a movie, or even attend a sporting event in France. To get the pass, people must provide documentation showing they are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19, have a negative virus test, or recently recovered from an infection.
Then, last August, the health pass began to be required at all restaurants, cafés, and shopping centers in France for everyone over the age of 12.
The health pass requirement was set to expire on November 15. However, due to the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising number of cases, the French parliament recently passed a bill to leave the requirement in place through July 2022.
How The Pass Used To Work
France’s health pass is relatively easy to get — for people vaccinated against COVID-19 in the EU. That’s because public health databases across member states are linked, which makes it easy to verify a person’s vaccination status.
Americans not vaccinated in the EU could — until recently — apply to the French government for a health pass before they traveled to France. All they needed to do was submit a photo of their CDC card, vaccination details, and trip details. Then, once approved, they were issued a French health pass QR code verifying their vaccination status.
That option, however, is no longer possible because the French government stopped accepting applications.
New Choices For Travelers
Travelers who were vaccinated outside of the EU now face two choices.
First, they can receive a temporary health pass by submitting proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. The good news is that rapid tests are generally offered in pharmacies across France. The bad news is that tourists must pay for those tests, which typically cost between $30 and $35, the U.S. Embassy explains.
A downside, in addition to the immediate cost, is that the temporary health pass is only valid for 72 hours, which means this option can get expensive quickly.
Here’s the second option. The U.S. Embassy in France explains that tourists may also receive a health pass in France by having their CDC vaccination card details verified in person at participating pharmacies across France. As the embassy noted, this could cost a maximum of $42, but it would be a one-time fee.
You can find information about obtaining a health pass — and find participating pharmacies — here.
Know Before You Go
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 68.71 percent of France’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. There have been 172,340 new COVID-19 cases reported in France in the last month and 971 deaths. France has also reported 50,999 new COVID-19 cases in the last week.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that there is a “High Level of COVID-19 in France,” and has correspondingly given the country a Level 3 warning classification.
Be sure to read the rest of our France coverage, including: