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I am planning for a visit to France end of March. I'm an EU national but from a country outside of the Schengen space (all EU countries are on France's the green list BTW) and I have been vaccinated twice with Pfizer in my home country. The second vaccination was in April 2020 and therefore the certificate is deemed invalid as per current policy.

My questions are :

  1. What is the official guidance for my case? Do you know a website on whose information I can really rely on?

  2. What is de facto happening at the airport when entering, are checks being made? How strict are they? From my past travel experience in the pandemic I know that it can be quite a wide gap between official recommendations and the (non-)verification of COVID certificates of individuals at the border.

Even if you have information only regarding one of these questions I'd be very interested. Various websites on the internet seem not to be updated and to reflect latest guidance (I understand there was a recent update of rules because of Omicron), because I keep stumbling on contradictory information and I really would like to know whether there is a risk of quarantine under my situation.

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  • There is no requirement to have a certificate (valid or otherwise) to enter France, the requirement is a full course of an EMA-recognised vaccine (and boosters are not mentioned anywhere yet). You will need the certificate for a bunch of things after that, including restaurants or long-distance trains but not commuter trains or hotels.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 10 at 8:15

4 Answers 4

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What is the official guidance for my case? Do you know a website on whose information I can really rely on?

These are the main French official websites dealing with this:

  • Covid travel bans and other rules on service-public.fr. Service-public.fr is managed by the Prime Minister's office and offers generally high quality information (legally sound, precise and relatively readable) but is not always the first to be updated.
  • Movement and travel from the government's special Coronavirus website. Gouvernement.fr is also managed by the Prime Minister's office but was mostly a PR website before Covid.
  • International travel page on the Interior ministry's web page (direct links to specific pages on gouvernement.fr). The Interior ministry is in charge of enforcing the rules.
  • Coronavirus info from the ministry of Foreign Affairs. This ministry and individual embassies publish more information in English but I often find it confusing or imprecise.

The rules changed today (February 12), a test is not required anymore if you received a full vaccination course (more on that below). Otherwise, there are restrictions based on the purpose of travel, mandatory tests before and after entry, and a quarantine recommendation.

The Interior ministry's website also offers more details on what “vaccinated” means:

  • “Vaccinated” should be understood as defined in EU law (“au sens de la réglementation européenne”) and can differ from the definition used for the pass vaccinal.
  • Since February 1st, a booster is required for everybody whose last injection is more than 9 months old.

What is de facto happening at the airport when entering, are checks being made? How strict are they? From my past travel experience in the pandemic I know that it can be quite a wide gap between official recommendations and the (non-)verification of COVID certificates of individuals at the border.

I have not been flying frequently enough to offer anything but anecdotes but I did encounter very systematic checks at Charles-de-Gaulle airport recently (a little over a month ago), even coming from another Schengen country. The checks were performed by the police, who did ask about the original point of departure (as many people including myself were merely transiting through the other Schengen airport).

IIRC, they scanned the EU Digital covid certificate (proof of vaccination) but did not ask for the proof of a recent test (the country I was coming from has been moving in and out of the green list over the last months). For international travel, I strongly recommend having some human-readable proof of vaccination (e.g. the full A4 readout of the relevant data, not merely the QR code) as many check points require more data and are not setup to scan the QR code.

I suspect that in theory it is up to the airline to check you have some proof of a negative test before letting you board (but it has also been hit and miss).

Incidentally, a valid EU digital covid certificate (so a recent vaccination) is in fact required on international trains but this hasn't been checked by anyone in over a year (and I take the Thalys once a month at least).

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  • "If your certificate returns an “invalid” results in the official checking app, you might have some explaining to do but the rules for entry are different and I think your vaccination should still be accepted." This is the key sentence. It will return probably invalid since I won't have a booster. What exactly do you mean by "rules for entry a different". Different compared to boostered people? Do you know what the worst thing would be that could happen?
    – user38525
    Feb 11 at 6:27
  • If you're flying again until end of March, please let me know.
    – user38525
    Feb 11 at 6:27
  • @user38525 Rules for entry have an entirely different legal basis and do not automatically track the rules implemented in the certificate checking app. People are allowed to enter with no certificate whatsoever, provided they have another proof of vaccination (say a CDC card). The definition of “fully vaccinated” is also different. To the best of my knowledge, a booster is not yet required. All that is my reading of the official websites, which can be somewhat confusing.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 11 at 8:41
  • Personally, I had already received a booster and I do not recall 100% what they did or did not check. But I can confirm that checks are still happening.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 11 at 8:43
  • Could you perhaps please send me the link to one of the official websites you mentioned (even if they are confusing, even if it is your own reading that no booster is yet required) so that, just in case the border guard start to ask me questions and have some explaining to do, I can point him to one of those official website and tell him "sorry, but I understood your website to mean no booster"?.... (In that case, I would at least have some tiny but of "evidence for my case", which might be better than telling him "I asked people online if I can enter France" :D)
    – user38525
    Feb 12 at 6:46
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You may take a booster if one is offered in your country. A booster is not required to enter the country but most public places like restaurants etc will accept a health pass for which a booster shot is required if 4+ months have passed post your second dose of mRNA vaccine.

I have found that the wordings in the official website might be a bit confusing. An unofficial version of the explanation can also be found at https://thepointsguy.com/news/french-vaccine-pass/

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  • This doesn't really seem to answer my question, which was specifically about what happens when entering, given my described circumstances, so a booster cannot be assumed (pass vaccinal is a different story, once one is inside the country).
    – user38525
    Feb 11 at 6:25
  • Your comment here itself answers your question. Again, there is no restriction on entering France as long as you have both doses done so the checks at the airport shouldn't matter. The requirement of a booster and how long after the second dose or prior to travel it should be comes into picture after you enter the country. Just find if your country is on the Red, Orange or the Green list at diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/… Feb 13 at 22:46
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https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/le-ministere-et-son-reseau/actualites-du-ministere/informations-coronavirus-covid-19/faq-covid-19-les-reponses-a-vos-questions/#sommaire_1:

Depuis le 1er février 2022, pour que leur schéma vaccinal reste reconnu comme complet, les personnes de 18 ans ou plus souhaitant entrer sur le territoire national doivent avoir reçu une dose de vaccin à ARN messager complémentaire au plus tard 9 mois suivant l’injection de la dernière dose requise.

Translation:

Since February 1, 2022, in order for their vaccination schedule to remain recognized as complete, people aged 18 or over wishing to enter the national territory must have received a dose of complementary messenger RNA vaccine no later than 9 months following the injection of the last required dose.

Sounds like you'll have to take a covid test to enter, unless you are one of the exceptions.

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  • The text is very confusing and seems to mix up entry rules, public health recommendation, EU health certificate validity issues, and rules on restricted activities inside the country. Just above this paragraph, you will find this “Ne pas avoir encore effectué votre rappel de vaccination ne vous empêche pas de rentrer en France.” Many other documents also imply that a test is required in any case to enter France from nearly every country in the world.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 10 at 8:44
  • @Relaxed my understanding is that “Ne pas avoir encore effectué votre rappel de vaccination ne vous empêche pas de rentrer en France.” is the old text. And technically is still correct with a covid test or below age 18, so they may have gotten lazy and kept it. But I agree it's a mess. I'm happy not to have to deal with the French bureaucracy anymore. Feb 10 at 8:57
  • That doesn't quite make sense to me. In most cases, a Covid test has been mandatory for quite some time, even if you are vaccinated. Vaccination makes a difference regarding the purpose of travel (régime des motifs impérieux) and quarantine or testing obligations after you arrive but is not mandatory to enter (and cannot be replaced by a test).
    – Relaxed
    Feb 10 at 12:46
  • 1
    You're interpretation was correct, the Interior ministry's website is much clearer and confirms it.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 12 at 10:39
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The official rules can be found on this page and that one.

Il convient de relever que tout voyageur entrant sur le territoire français en provenance d’un pays extérieur à l’espace européen doit présenter un test PCR ou antigénique négatif de moins de 48 heures. Pour les voyageurs non vaccinés en provenance du Royaume-Uni, le délai de réalisation du test PCR ou antigénique est de 24 heures.

Any person aged 12 and over entering French territory must present a negative PCR or antigen test less than 24 or 48 hours old, depending on the country of origin.

The government announced yesterday that rules are going to be relaxed soon for people fully vaccinated (i.e. with a booster or two jabs and a recovery certificate) but it is not yet published.

According to your status, you would need a less than 24 h old PCR or antigen test. I can't tell how strong the rules are enforced. That certainly vary depending on the transportation method (car, train, plane...) but I have no doubt that there are more people unchecked than checked.

End of March is far. We switched many times between optimism (the current trend) and pessimism (new variants and waves) so anything can change before your arrival. Some media start to talk about a possible end of the pass vaccinal by the end of March.

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  • I haven't seen any mention of the pass vaccinal in relation to international air travel (international trains are apparently covered by rules on long-distance trains so the pass seems required there). I believe the two are legally completely disconnected and entry rules are at least partly agreed at the EU/Schengen level. So it's entirely possible the government will lift the certificate requirement ahead of the presidential election but leave entry rules untouched.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 10 at 8:38
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    @Relaxed It is possible indeed. My point was no difference is made between French citizens and foreign visitors regarding the pass vaccinal. In locations where it is mandatory (e.g. interregional trains, planes, boats, bars, restaurants, cinemas, museums,...), everyone is expected to be able to show it.
    – jlliagre
    Feb 10 at 10:16

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