Delays reported for French QR health pass code for non-EU visitors

Without a code Americans, Scottish and other non-EU visitors may need to pay for Covid tests every three days to access bars, cafes, restaurants and other public places

23 August 2021

Delays are being reported when trying to obtain a Covid-19 health pass in France for non-EU visitors Pic: sylv1rob1/ Shutterstock

By Liv Rowland

Long delays are being reported by some non-EU visitors seeking a French health pass document so as to spend time in France.

A scheme has been in place since early this month, whereby those concerned apply to the French foreign affairs ministry by email.

After submitting a copy of their non-EU vaccination certificate – assuming the vaccination is of a type recognised in France – applicants should receive an email containing an EU QR code that they can use on their trip to France to visit bars and restaurants, museums etc, or which they can scan into France’s TousAntiCovid app.

One American reader reported receiving his code the day after applying  but several others have reported frustration after waiting up to a week or more with no news.

When the scheme first opened, official French websites stated that applications from those who are in French already or arriving by August 15 would be dealt with in the first instance, this date was then extended to August 22 (yesterday), and has now been updated to August 26 (Thursday this week).

The wording states: “This procedure is open to foreign tourists from outside the EU who are already in France or are arriving by August 26, 2021. Applications concerning an arrival after this date will be dealt with later on.”

We have asked the ministry for clarification as to whether this means people arriving from August 27 may nonetheless apply now but their applications will be processed after the others, or whether it means they should wait for the date to be updated before sending their dossiers.

At present this system concerns all non-Europeans apart from those from EEA states, Monaco and Andorra plus England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The EEA and microstates are part of an EU-wide Digital Covid Certificate standardisation scheme. 

Those from England and Wales and Northern Ireland can scan in their QR code from the NHS App and it will be recognised by France’s TousAntiCovid app, or alternatively present paper certificates whose QR codes should now be compatible in France.

Read more: NHS Covid certificates to be fully compatible with French health pass

Until recently only English and Welsh certificates from the UK were stated on official websites to be compatible with the French / EU system, however this is now also the case for those from Northern Ireland, says the UK’s France Travel Advice (see Public spaces and services).

A spokesman for the Scottish government said their paper certificates do not currently have QR codes on them, nor do they currently have an app that can be used, however this is set to change: “We are developing an app to make it easier to show Covid status for international travel. This will include vaccination records and a QR code and we aim to release this next month.”

In the meantime, those vaccinated in Scotland are required to use the same email application system as those from other countries such as America.

The Connexion has received emails from several readers concerned about delays in obtaining the swap. One wrote on Tuesday last week to say he had been in France since July visiting his second home and had applied a week previously to convert his Scottish certificate on August 10, had received a reply to say his request would be processed as soon as possible, but nothing since then.

“Despite assurances from the ministry that visitors already in the country or arriving by August 15 would be prioritised, I still await my QR email,” he said. “Heaven help those coming for a few days or weeks.”

The reader said so far local venues had however accepted his hard copy Scottish NHS vaccination certificate, but he was unsure if this would apply everywhere.

The Connexion has also been told of some venues, such as the Eiffel Tower, where foreign vaccination certificates are being accepted without conversion, but we have heard reports of difficulties in some venues if you do not have the EU-standard scannable QR code. There has been no official communication from the French government as to whether venues are obliged to accept foreign certificates.

An American reader visiting France also wrote about her frustration at waiting for several days for her pass. “We’re compliant and trying to be responsible travellers as well as respectful of local health and safety requirements. We’re here because they ran news stories about Paris being open and asking visitors to return,” she said.

“We recognize everything is in flux right now and appreciate how difficult it is for governments everywhere. We’re doing everything they’ve asked of us but it’s not working and really causing unnecessary stress and expense. 

“My concern is our online application is lost in a sea of submissions and this whole thing will start again when our Covid test expires.”

Another reader emailed to say he had been waiting for 10 days after emailing in documents on behalf of his Turkish fiancée, who had been denied entry to a museum due to not having a valid pass.

“What are the French doing? Are they deliberately trying to kill their non-European travel industry or just deprive their restaurants and bars of business?,” he wrote. “Fortunately my fiancée will be staying 90 days but what if she was here for two weeks?”

One French resident said her son was affected after coming to France to visit his parents from Scotland just over a week ago and applying for the code on Sunday August 15. 

She said today: "So far nothing has turned up and our son goes home on Saturday. He had an antigen test done on Friday in order to go out for a meal yesterday lunch time, will have another on tomorrow in order to go out on Wednesday and one to go out on Friday and to fly home on Saturday.  He is very computer-literate so filled in the form correctly and sent the scanned documents required over a week ago. We are very unimpressed with the lack of code and also the fact that you cannot contact the government department at all."

Asked to comment, a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said they are “receiving a high number of requests and we are working hard to process them as quickly as possible”.

He said that in the meantime, visitors may obtain a negative test from valid three days (72 hours) for entry to venues requiring the pass.

These officially cost €43.89 for a PCR test or €25 for an antigen test (which are offered by many pharmacies), however some variation from these prices can still be found.

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Does France’s tourist health pass QR code system work for Americans?

France health pass: The rules for tourists and hotels, gîtes and B&Bs

Checklist: Where and when should I use the French Covid health pass?

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