The French government has suspended the online portal through which visitors from outside of the EU (with the exception of the UK) could apply for a health pass QR code.
This means that they must now carry out the process in a designated French pharmacy, at a cost of up to €36.
Tourists arriving in France from abroad need to obtain a health pass to be able to visit public spaces such as restaurants, bars and museums.
This pass sanitaire can consist of proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid, a negative test result received within the last 48 hours, or proof of recovery from Covid within the last six months, and is normally presented through a QR code generated by France’s TousAntiCovid app.
Visitors from within the EU and from some countries including the UK have vaccination certificates that are already compatible with the app and which can be uploaded directly.
However, many non-EU tourists, including those from the US and Canada, do not have documentation which can be scanned into TousAntiCovid, so must undergo a process to convert their certificates.
These travellers were initially told that they could translate their documentation into a QR code by emailing the French Foreign Affairs Ministry.
On August 27, a supposedly simpler online portal was launched, allowing tourists to upload their details themselves.
However, the ministry received “a very large number of requests” – more than 4.5 million according to The Points Guy – causing processing delays and leading some travellers to cancel their trips.
Now, the online application portal has been shut down leaving a message which reads: “This procedure has been closed, it is no longer possible to submit a file.”
The US Embassy in France has now published a statement explaining that: “As of October 31, the French government has changed the method in which US citizens and other people vaccinated outside the European Union may obtain a French health pass.
“Under the new system, the health pass will be obtained from designated pharmacies for a fee of up to €36.”
The Embassy also provides a list of the pharmacies which will accept to carry out the procedure for tourists.
Travellers will need their passport and the original paper version of their vaccination record – containing their name, date of birth, vaccination date(s), number of doses and the country in which they were received – in order to obtain the QR code.
Those who are unvaccinated or unable to convert their vaccination documentation can also get a health pass by taking an antigen test in a pharmacy, many of which accept walk-ins.
These tests generally cost between €20 and €30 and the results come with a QR code that can be used as a health pass for the next 72 hours.
“This is strictly a French government procedure,” the US Embassy added. “Despite what some pharmacies have told travellers, the U.S. Embassy has no access to the French system, nor can we assist in this process.”
It is unclear when the decision to suspend the online portal was taken, and the French Embassies to countries including Chile and the US still state that travellers can apply for a QR code online, although the links no longer work.
The Embassy of France in Washington DC website states that the “system is open to non-European foreign nationals, tourists and students [...arriving] before September 5.
“Requests concerning subsequent arrivals will be processed at a later date.”
However, this does not explain why the system remained active until October 31.
The Connexion has contacted the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask why the portal was closed and whether there are plans to introduce a new online system. We have not yet received a response.
Some US tourists have reported being able to visit restaurants and museums using their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination cards, but this is at the discretion of the venue.