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EXPLAINED: The vaccine pass rules for travelling to France with children

With the introduction of the vaccine pass, family travel to France has become more complicated due to the vaccination rules for children - here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The vaccine pass rules for travelling to France with children
Children in France may need a vaccine pass. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP

If you’re travelling to France you may need to show proof of vaccination at the border, depending where you are travelling from, but once here you will certainly need a vaccine pass if you want to access venues such as bars, cafés, restaurants, ski lifts, leisure centres, tourist sites or long-distance travel.

And this also applies to under 18s.

You can find full details of the rules for entering the country HERE.

Here are the rules regarding the vaccine pass.

Under 12s

If your children are younger than 12 then they do not require any type of pass in order to enter the venues listed above.

Aged between 12 and 15

If your children are aged between 12 years and two months and 15 years, then they will need a health pass to access the above venues.

Slightly different to the vaccine pass, the health pass requires one of three things; proof of full Covid vaccination, proof of recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test taken within the previous 24 hours.

‘Full vaccination’ here means two doses of either Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. A single dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca is not accepted as full vaccination and kids who have only had one dose will have to follow the rules for unvaccinated people. The child must be at least seven days after their second dose.

Recent recovery from Covid requires a positive test result more than 11 days old but less than six months old. From February 15th, this changes to a test certificate more than 11 days old but less than four months old. The test must be either a PCR or antigen test, tests done at home are not accepted.

If the child tested positive in France or the EU, then their test result can be uploaded straight onto the TousAntiCovid app, those who tested positive outside the EU face a more complicated process – full details HERE.

For children for whom the first two options are not possible, there is the opportunity to take a test. This must be either a PCR or antigen test, not a test taken at home, and the result can be no more than 24 hours old, meaning regular trips to the pharmacy for testing for families who are on holiday. For those who are not resident in France, tests cost €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.

Aged between 16 and 18 

Children aged between 16 and 18 need a vaccine pass, which means that a negative Covid test cannot be accepted.

Instead, they need to be either fully vaccinated or have recently tested positive for Covid, and the conditions for those are the same as those outlined above. 

Over 18s may require a booster in order to be considered fully vaccinated, but for the 16-18 age group, boosters are not required.

Aged 18 and over

Teenagers aged 18 or above are counted as adults, which means they need a vaccine pass and may need a booster shot to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’.

Booster shots are required once more than seven months has passed since the second dose, a limit that falls to four months on February 15th.

The time limits concern only those who have not had a booster – people who are boosted but have a gap longer than four months between the second shot at the booster will be able to get a valid pass.

Medical exemptions 

There exists within the French vaccine pass rules the possibility to present a Certificat de contre-indication for people who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.

We explain the process in full HERE, but it is so complicated as to be virtually inaccessible to people who are not resident in France.

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Covid rules and vaccine pass: What changes in France on Wednesday

This week in France there are two big Covid-related changes - the second phase in the relaxation of health rules and changes to the vaccine pass validity. Here's what you need to know.

Covid rules and vaccine pass: What changes in France on Wednesday

It is a busy week in terms of changes to Covid policy in France, with Wednesday marking the latest phase in the gradual relaxation of the rules.

Here’s what changes;


  • Wider relaxation of Covid rules 

A number of Covid rules are being scrapped, which will be of huge relief to those working in the nightlife and cultural sector. 

Nightclubs will be open once again from Wednesday and cafés and bars will no longer be limited to table-service, meaning you will be able to drink at the bar and even have a boogie if you wish. 

Concerts and music gigs can also take place once again.

People will once again be allowed to eat in cinemas and sports grounds, as well as on trains and planes.

You can find the full calendar of upcoming changes HERE.

Several other changes have already come into force this week;


  • Vaccination centres told to show flexibility to unvaccinated

The health ministry sent a memo to vaccination centres on Monday, instructing them to allow people using fake health passes to wipe the record clean and initiate a real vaccination cycle. 

Up until Monday, people using fake passes had 30 days to inform a vaccination centre and receive their shots without facing legal consequences.

This 30 day limit no longer applies – and those working at vaccination sites no longer need to inform law enforcement authorities of people who were using fake passes. 


  • Vaccine pass rules change

Booster shots are now necessary for most people who want to hold a valid vaccine pass – which is required to use a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, ski lifts and tourist sites. 

Up until now, vaccine passes automatically deactivated if it has been more than seven months since your second dose and you have not yet received a booster shot. But on Tuesday, this time limit dropped to four months. Anyone who already had the booster is fine, even if their gap between second and third doses is more than four months.

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

Bear in mind that in certain circumstances, proof of previous infection from Covid means you would not have to receive a booster dose to carry on holding a valid vaccine pass. 

READ MORE If you’ve had Covid you may not need a booster for your vaccine pass

You can still use proof of recent recovery from Covid in lieu of being fully vaccinated as a condition to hold the health pass. But instead of lasting for six months, the validity of recent recovery drops to just four months on Tuesday. Remember that you can receive a booster once three months have passed since your infection. Full details on how to use recovery certificates HERE.

Finally, when the government introduced the vaccine pass, it offered an incentive to unvaccinated people to receive their first shot by saying that anyone who received their first dose between January 15th – February 15th would be able to use a negative Covid test to access vaccine pass venues. This exemption ends on Tuesday and now the vaccine pass requires everyone to have a full vaccination course, with seven days after the second dose.

  • Home-test kits withdrawn from supermarkets

Supermarkets are no longer able to sell Covid home-test kits (autotests) – you will now only be able to find these products in pharmacies. Over the New Year period, supermarkets were granted a license to sell these kits in order to allow for better  monitoring of the fifth wave. 

The maximum price of a Covid self-test is limited by the French government at €5.20, but many supermarkets were selling them for much cheaper prices.