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Reader question: Do I need a Covid vaccine booster shot to travel to France?

The French government is pushing a booster dose campaign as one of its key strategies in the fight against Covid, and for many a booster is a requirement for a vaccine pass. But what is the situation for travellers?

A man receives a booster dose in France.
A man receives a booster dose in France. We take a look at whether these extra injections are needed for travel. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP)

Question: I plan to travel to France next week but have still not received a booster dose. Do I need to get one before I leave? 

France has a traffic light system for travel, with countries listed as either green, amber or red. If you are unvaccinated, then you will face different restrictions on travel to France depending on what category country you are travelling from – full details HERE.

For now though, French border authorities are not taking into account whether or not you have had a booster dose.

This means that if you are vaccinated but haven’t received a booster dose, you will not face the extra travel restrictions.

The French Health Ministry told The Local: “a booster is not yet required to leave or return to France.” 

To count as fully vaccinated for travel purposes, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen). The Indian-produced Covishield vaccine is also now accepted by France 
  • Be at least seven days after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19
  • Be at least 28 days after the injection for people who had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • People who have received a vaccine that is recognised by the World Health Organisation but not yet approved for use by the EMA can travel to France if they have had a ‘top up’ single dose of either Pfizer or Moderna 

Both EU and non-EU vaccination certificates are accepted at the border.

The vaccine pass 

However, although you can enter France without a booster, you may find your life curtailed once you are here.

In France, a vaccine pass is required to access sites like bars, restaurants, cinemas and tourist sites such as museums and galleries – and a booster is required for a valid vaccine pass.

The vaccine pass requires a booster shot if more than seven months has passed since your last vaccine dose (or two months if they you vaccinated with Janssen) – and this rule is the same for French residents and visitors or tourists.

Full details here.

From February 15th, you must have received a booster dose if more than four months has passed since your last dose (or two months for Janssen).

If you have had the booster then you are entitled to a vaccine pass – the seven or four-month limits refer only to people who have not had a booster.

The booster rule does not apply to under 18s.

Foreign vaccination certificates

If you were vaccinated in an EU or Schengen zone country, your vaccination certificate and booster is fully compatible with the French health pass.

Those vaccinated outside the EU, however, will need to covert their vaccination certificates into a French code once they arrive in the country – here’s how

If you were vaccinated in England, Wales or Scotland, the NHS vaccination certificate is now compatible with the French health pass app, but there is a technical point you should be aware of:

NHS vaccination codes are only valid for 30 days and since the deactivation programme began, the Tous Anti Covid app also deactivates expired NHS codes, meaning that those vaccinated in the UK must download a new NHS code every 30 days and add it to the French app in order to keep their pass working.

If your pass is deactivated, here’s how to reactivate it.

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French government deactivates 3.5 million Covid vaccine passes

The French government has announced that 3.5 million people will be affected by the deactivation of their vaccine pass on Wednesday.

French government deactivates 3.5 million Covid vaccine passes

Passes will be deactivated for people who have not had a booster shot, if more than four months has passed since their second vaccine dose.

The new rule requiring boosters for all over 18s came into force on February 15th, but the government gave a one-week ‘period of tolerance’ to allow people to get the booster shot.

This tolerance period ends on Wednesday so from then on if you had your second dose more than four months ago and you have not had a booster, your vaccine pass will cease to work.

Anyone who has had the booster shot will keep their valid pass, even if the gap between their second and third doses was more than four months.

People whose pass deactivates will no longer be able to access health pass venues, which include bars, cafés, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas, theatres, tourist sites, large events, sports stadiums, nightclubs and long-distance trains.

READ ALSO What should I do if my pass deactivates?

The booster shot rules also affect tourists and visitors, so people vising from other countries will no longer be able to get a French vaccine pass unless they have had a booster shot if their initial vaccines were administered more than four months ago.

READ ALSO Your questions answered on France’s 4-month booster shot rule

Anyone living in France is eligible for a booster three months after their second vaccine dose.

At present, second boosters are being offered only to those in high risk groups. Health minister Olivier Véran told the Senate on Tuesday that he does not judge that a second booster is necessary for most people, and they are not required for the vaccine pass.