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Recap: How to avoid losing your French vaccine pass on February 15

Around five million people are said to risk seeing their passes expire. We explain the rules for booster doses and recovery certificates 

A woman holds up a vaccine pass QR code on her smartphone

Rules for the vaccine pass use are changing from next week Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

The rules on the use of the vaccine pass in France are set to change next Tuesday, February 15, including changes to booster dose and recovery certificate requirements.

The vaccine pass came into force on January 24, mainly replacing the health pass (pass sanitaire). It requires users aged 16 and over to show proof of vaccination or of recent recovery from Covid in order to access certain leisure-orientated public spaces such as restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatres and sports halls.

It effectively bans unvaccinated people who have not had Covid in the past six months from venues such as cafes and restaurants where previously they could show a recent negative Covid test to enter.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran said in December: “The vaccine pass is a disguised form of compulsory vaccination.”

Teenagers aged 12 to 15 can continue to use a health pass, meaning that they may still take a Covid test in order to gain access to a required venue. Children under 12 do not need to show any type of pass. 

The vaccine pass rules apply to residents and visitors alike.

Read more: France's vaccine pass launches: How and where is it being used? 

The rules on the pass are set to shift from Tuesday next week (February 15). Here are key changes to know about.

Booster doses

  • People aged over 18 years and one month must have had their booster dose within four months of their last jab. Until February 15, this time period is set at seven months. Anyone who has already had a booster dose is unaffected by the February 15 change
  • If you do not get your booster in time, you will lose your pass
  • This concerns almost five million people, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal has said

Recovery certificate

  • The validity time of a recovery certificate proving you have recovered from Covid will drop from six months to four for people who have not also had at least two vaccine doses, meaning you must have recovered within the past four months for your pass to remain in use
  • The time limit starts from the day you first tested positive for Covid

Covid infection

  • Recovering from a Covid infection is now considered equivalent to having a vaccine dose
  • For example, people aged 18 or over who got Covid before they were able to get their booster dose will be able to use their recovery certificate from 11 days after infection and will not need to get an additional dose in order to retain their vaccine pass after four months 
  • In effect, anyone who has had two vaccine doses and one previous Covid infection, or one vaccine dose and two previous infections will not need to get a booster dose to keep their vaccine pass. 
  • Health Minister Olivier Véran said: “To use the pass, your immune system must have been stimulated at least three times (whether by an infection or by a vaccine dose), and you must have had at least one injection.”

Read more: French vaccine pass: third dose not needed if had two jabs and Covid 

EU-wide travel rules

  • Travel rules within the European Union state that you can now travel within the bloc by presenting the EU Digital Covid certificate, which uses proof of vaccination, a recovery certificate, or a negative PCR test result from within the past 72 hours
  • From February 1, digital proof of vaccination will be valid for nine months for the purposes of travel to and within the EU, after which time a booster dose will be required to maintain the pass. Travellers though should still double-check specific rules for the country to which they are travelling, as extra regulations can still be imposed by individual countries

For more details on who needs a vaccine pass, and how to get your vaccine pass via the TousAntiCovid app, see our article here.

Heavier fines for fake passes

  • People found to be using someone else’s vaccine pass now face a €1,000 fine from their first offence. The previous penalty is €135.
  • Those discovered using a fake pass will risk five years in prison and a €75,000 fine.
  • These individuals will be able to reduce their penalty if they agree to get vaccinated 

Related articles

Update: Covid recovery proof valid for four months from February 15

Checklist: Where are vaccine passes required in France?

Expiry warning wrongly shows on some French vaccine passes due to bug

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