France’s health pass vs the EU’s health pass: What is the difference?

Pass sanitaire, Digital Green Certificate, Covid passport...We break down what these terms refer to

23 June 2021
France's TousAntiCovid phone application

It is possible to store your French 'health pass' on France's TousAntiCovid phone application Pic: Screenshot / TousAntiCovid

The French government and French media are regularly referring to a pass sanitaire (health pass). 

A physical health pass does not exist. It is a catch-all term that actually means:

  • A Covid-19 vaccination certificate, issued once the patient has been fully vaccinated
  • A Covid-19 test (PCR or rapid antigen) that proves a patient is negative for Covid-19
  • A Covid-19 test (PCR or rapid antigen) that proves a patient has been positive for Covid-19 between two weeks and six months ago

These certificates can be in paper format or in digital format, stored through the phone application TousAntiCovid.

In France, you can use these certificates to enter large events of over 1,000 people, or, from July 1, to travel around the EU.

We break down how to get these certificates here - How to ensure your French Covid certificates will work for EU travel

The EU has a differently named system, but to all intents and purposes, it is the same as France’s.

The EU system is called the 'EU Digital COVID Certificate' scheme (formerly known as the Digital Green Certificate, a term that is still used by media outlets). 

This refers to any of the above-mentioned certificates issued in any EU member state. 

This is to say that from July 1, when the EU’s scheme launches, the Covid-19 test you take in a pharmacy in France will be valid in all 27 EU member states. It will contain a QR code that travel and event authorities around the EU will be able to scan.

Equally, a Covid-19 test you take in a pharmacy in Greece will be valid in France. 

Your French Covid-19 vaccination certificate will be valid in Greece and a French Covid-19 test proving you had Covid-19 previously will also be valid in Greece, etc. 

It is possible that not all EU countries will be ready to launch the system on July 1 - there is a six-week grace period to have it up and running. 

A Covid passport is a term that is used differently by media outlets to mean different things, but is never used officially by France or the EU.

In France, entrance to large events is dependent on having one of the three above-mentioned certificates. You do not need to have a Covid-19 vaccine certificate to enter a large event if you take a Covid-19 test. This is the same for the EU system - it is not necessary to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel within the bloc as you can also use a Covid-19 test. 

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