Covid tests in France: Who has to pay from today and how much?

Prices range from around €20 for rapid antigen tests to closer to around €45 for PCR tests for people who are not vaccinated and do not have a medical prescription

15 October 2021

Over 18s who are not vaccinated against Covid now have to pay for tests in France unless they have a medical reason to get one Pic: Noiel / Shutterstock

By Thomas Brent

From today (October 15) Covid tests are no longer free in France for adults who are not fully vaccinated and do not have a medical prescription, as part of a measure to encourage vaccination and cut public spending. 

The decision to end free tests was announced by President Emmanuel Macron on July 12. 

A negative Covid test - either rapid antigen or PCR - is one document that can be used as part of France’s health pass (pass sanitaire) system, whereby proof of a person’s Covid status is required to enter the majority of public places, including cafés, restaurants, museums and cinemas. 

A negative test remains valid for 72 hours. 

Up until today, these tests were offered for free to anyone in the French healthcare system. 

Tourists to France have had to pay for Covid tests since July 7.

Read more: Tourists in France must pay for Covid tests unless medically exempt

Who has to pay and who does not?

Tests will remain free for:

  • Anyone who is fully vaccinated against Covid
  • Anyone who has a medical prescription or has been signalled as a Covid contact case by Assurance maladie
  • Under 18s (or school pupils)
  • Anyone with a certificate saying they are exempt from Covid vaccinations
  • Anyone who requires a Covid test prior to a medical operation

Tests are now no longer free for:

  • Tourists to France
  • Over 18s who are not vaccinated against Covid

The French government has stated that more than 150 million Covid tests have been carried out since March 2020. Around 6million were being taken each week in August this year, when the health pass system came into effect.

Read more: Record 6million Covid tests taken in France after health pass extended

There are still around 3.5 to four million tests being carried out each week in France.

A certificate showing a person has been fully vaccinated against Covid can also be used as part of France's health pass system.

Some 7.5 million people in France who are eligible to be vaccinated against Covid have not yet been vaccinated. 

The new cost of tests

The government has suggested a fee of €43.89 for PCR tests carried out by medical laboratories. The prices may vary depending on the lab.

For a rapid antigen test (lateral flow), the government has set the suggested price for pharmacies at €25.01 from Monday to Saturday, and €30.01 on Sundays.

It recommends a price of €22.02 at medical laboratories, and €45.11 at doctor’s cabinets. 

The table below shows a price guide for the cost of rapid antigen tests in France.

Pic: Screenshot / Ministère des Solidarités et de la Santé

Where to get a Covid-19 test in France

Pharmacies

Rapid antigen tests are readily available in many pharmacies around France. You can walk in and book a test and usually get the result within 30 minutes. The availability of Covid-19 tests is usually advertised in the pharmacy window. 

Finding a test centre

You can also find a place to get a Covid-19 test through the government website sante.fr. 

Simply type in the department you are in and you will see a list of all laboratories offering tests. 

There is also a map of all the testing laboratories with the relevant contact details. 

Please note that the search feature on the map does not always function. You may be better zooming into the area you live in to find your nearest testing centre. 

Sante.fr provides the laboratories’ phone numbers and you can book an appointment by calling directly, but staff may not speak English. 

You can also book an appointment through Doctolib.fr without a social security number. You just need to sign up for a free account. You will then need to provide your address, postcode and town.

Related stories:

How to get a French health pass: A guide for residents and visitors

How to avoid Covid testing and vaccination scams in France

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