Covid health pass: Travel warning over October family holidays in France

Carcassonne medieval cité
Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP
Families planning a trip to France during the October school holidays are being warned of potential problems for children due to the health passport system in place.

Since the beginning of August, France has required a Covid health passport for entry to many everyday venues including restaurants, leisure centres, tourist sites and long-distance train travel.

The passport requires one of three things; proof of fully vaccinated status, a negative Covid test no more than 72 hours old, or proof of recent recovery from Covid.

READ ALSO How the French health passport works

Over the summer, children under the age of 18 were exempt from this requirement, but this exemption ended on September 30th.

Now anyone over the age of 12 years and two months is required to show their pass, meaning that if a family wants to go out for dinner all family members over the age of 12 will need to show their health passports before being allowed in. Children under 12 are not affected and do not need to show a health passport.

The initial exemption was to give teenagers in France the chance to get vaccinated, as France has been vaccinating 12-17 year-olds since June 15th  – the 12 years and two months start date is designed to give youngsters who are just turning 12 enough time to get both their doses.

Among French teenagers, 74.2 percent of 12-17 year-olds are now fully vaccinated.

However, tourists coming from countries that are not yet vaccinating children in large numbers are likely to have a problem – and this could hit the October school holidays, during which France is a popular holiday destination.

READ ALSO A step-by-step guide to getting the French health passport

Anyone over the age of 12 years and two months who is not fully vaccinated has two main options.

The first is to get a Covid test every 72 hours – as well as being not a whole load of fun, tests for tourists are no longer free, so families face a cost of €22 for an antigen test (or €44 for a PCR test) every 72 hours for each child over the age of 12.

The second option is to avoid health passport venues, but this covers a wide range of places including cafés, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums and tourist sites (including theme parks like Disneyland Paris), leisure centres, events such as festivals or concerts and long-distance travel on trains, buses or domestic airlines.

Accommodation such as hotels, gîtes and campsites generally don’t require a health passport, but you will need to show it if you use communal facilities such as a pool or bar. Business owners are also within their rights to make it a condition of stay, so check booking information in advance.

The health passport does contain provision to prove you have recently recovered from Covid, but this requires a positive test result less than six months old, plus a negative result from the previous 11 days. Both these test results must be in a format that is compatible with the French app, so is unlikely to be of much use to tourists.

The criteria to be ‘fully vaccinated’ for 12-17-year-olds is the same as for adults:

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen in France). The Indian-produced Covishield vaccine is now accepted by France 
  • Be at least seven days after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or seven days after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19

The health passport was initially in place until November 15th, but French MPs have agreed to an extension of the legislation until July 31st 2022, should the health situation require it.

Travel rules

As well as the rules within France, tourists also need to be aware of rules on entry, testing and quarantine both for France and on returning to their home country.

You can find a full breakdown of France’s traffic light travel system HERE. Unvaccinated children can enter the country if they are travelling with vaccinated parents, but children over the age of 11 will need to show a negative Covid test at the border.


Member comments

  1. From my understanding 16-18 year olds are only receiving one dose under UK rules and yet this doesn’t seem sufficient under the French criteria.

    Can anybody confirm that this is indeed the case?

    1. That’s correct, over 12s need to be fully vaccinated, which means 2 doses if using Pfizer or Moderna

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