It was supposed to be the cornerstone of the European strategy to open up to tourism when it comes to issuing vaccination certificates. However, it seems the strategy keeps changing to keep up with the current times. In the summer, when France opened up, they announced that all sorts of indoor places including museums and restaurants would be required to validate the vaccination status of those visiting. Only those who are vaccinated would be able to visit these places.
As per the French Government, since July 21, 2021, the “sanitary pass” was mandatory to access leisure and cultural places accommodating more than 50 people.
As of August 9, the threshold of 50 people disappears and the “sanitary pass ” also applies in cafes and restaurants, including terraces , in certain large shopping centers of more than 20,000 m² according to a list drawn up by the prefect in the departments where the virus is actively circulating.
Travel by plane, or for long journeys by train and bus are also concerned.
The same rules applied for those who were travelling from outside France as well. The French Government offered to issue a Pass Sanitaire to everyone who arrived in the country, which would then be imported on the TousAntiCovid, the French app for Covid-19 updates and track and trace. At the moment, it is expected that the Pass Sanitaire will be required to access indoors in France at least till July 2022.
Once you have this pass, it also works across all other EU countries to establish your vaccination status. So it is not like you have to arrive in Switzerland and get another pass. The French one is interoperable, and similarly, if you have one from Switzerland, it works across the EU and so on.
Getting the Pass Sanitaire
There have been many twists and turns in the tales of how to get the French Pass Sanitaire. When the process started in July 2021, everyone was asked to go to a French pharmacy to get their vaccination cards converted to an online French vaccination record. Then, in August 2021, France moved to a system where you had to send an email with all the appropriate documents to get your Pass Sanitaire. There were three email addresses, one for US arrivals, one for Canadian arrivals and one for the rest of the world.
When I had my trip in the works, I sent them an email to request my Covid-19 vaccination pass, where I was informed that the QR code-based pass application was now moved to an online application system. This system went online on August 27, 2021.
To receive my Pass Sanitaire, I had to create an account on this website, and submit my tickets for arrival in France, a copy of my Passport and a PDF of my vaccination certificate which indicated both doses and the dates. I downloaded everything and sent it along their way on September 3, 2021. However, it took up to ten days for the French to process my pass and send it back. In the meantime, I heard some people got their passes in a day or two, and some people had to reapply to get their Pass Sanitaire.
I made a printout of the pass as well as downloaded the TousAntiCovid app on my phone, where the pass was stored and I could use it in France at restaurants and the events I was visiting France for.
However, it seems this website has also been shut down for now. As I checked the site on November 1, 2021, to take some screenshots for this article, I saw this on the home screen.
At present, there is no guidance from the French government about when will this process be opened up again. However, fret not. If you have a vaccination certificate with a vaccine that is accepted in France, you would still be able to flip it out and show it to the French. I had to in fact show my CoviShield certificate to the immigration officer to be stamped into the country.
Having said that, since you will still need a pass to enter most indoor venues across France, there are ample number free testing kiosks set up across Paris at least, which do a free Rapid Antigen Test and get you a result in 10 minutes. The result can be used to give you a temporary Pass Sanitaire for 72 hours, which you can use to access all sorts of indoor venues which require the pass. Then, rinse repeat.
Update: A new system has been put in place to convert your vaccination certificate into the French system on a paid basis.
To move around France, you will need to provide a Pass Sanitaire, which is going to be issued against your fully-vaccinated card at a designated website at this point in time. However, the website has been closed to new applications for now. Perhaps this is a maintenance move or something. So, if you still are due to receive a pass for upcoming travel to France, you can instead carry your origin country vaccination certificate, and once there, get a RAT test done to get yourself a temporary certificate.
Have you applied for the Pass Sanitaire? What has been your experience getting it issued?
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