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France Covid: Must positive tests be confirmed by PCR for health pass?

We look at the rules surrounding certificates of recovery, both for domestic purposes and for international travel

We look at how to obtain a French health pass using a certificate of recovery Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

Reader Question: My husband and I are both suffering from Covid, confirmed by home tests. Do we have to have official PCR tests in order to record this on our French Covid health passes? We used NHS tests acquired in the UK.

First of all, if you have Covid symptoms and/or you have carried out a home test and it has come back positive, you should self isolate. You should confirm your result with a PCR test and list the people with whom you have had close contact here.

If you are vaccinated, the isolation period should last seven days, unless after five days you return a negative test result and have not had any symptoms for the past 48 hours. If you are still positive after five days, you must stay at home until the full week is over. 

If you are unvaccinated, you must self isolate for 10 days, which can be cut down to seven if you test negative and have had no symptoms for the last 48 hours by day seven. 

If you are unable to work from home and need an arrêt de travail sick note, you will have to confirm your home test with an antigen or PCR test taken in the two days following your initial result. You will be allowed to leave the house for this purpose.

Using your result for your health pass

In France, health passes are now only needed for non-emergency visits to medical and care settings. However, they are also often required for international travel, so may be needed if you are planning a holiday this summer. 

Health passes can be presented in paper format or downloaded as a QR code to be displayed in the TousAntiCovid app. 

They come in three different forms: 

  • Proof of full vaccination (schéma vaccinal complet). Your vaccination certificate will become valid 28 days after your first injection of the single-dose Janssen vaccine, or seven days after the second injection of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine. In the 270 days following these doses, an additional booster dose should be received to prevent the pass from expiring. You can still reactivate an expired pass by getting a booster after this deadline.

  • A negative Covid test from the last 24 hours. In France, PCR, antigen and supervised self-test results can be downloaded from the SI-DEP screening database – and are also normally emailed to the individual – and used as a pass. 

  • A certificate of recovery. This certificate (certificat de rétablissement) will be a positive PCR or antigen test result from more than 11 days but less than six months ago, in the case of international travel.

It is this certificate of recovery which you wish to use as a health pass. 

As stated above, your positive test result will only count as a recovery certificate if you have a PCR or antigen test QR code reflecting the result. 

Self-tests cannot be used for this purpose, so if you carried out an NHS home test, your result cannot be saved to the SI-DEP platform or emailed to you as a TousAntiCovid-compatible certificate.  

Therefore, you would need to confirm it with a PCR or antigen test result if you want to use it as a health pass. Further information on this can be found on the French government website.

Points to bear in mind when travelling 

If you wish to use your health pass for travel, you should bear in mind that only PCR test results will be accepted as recovery certificates at international borders. 

It should also be noted that certificats de rétablissement cannot always be used for travel, so it is worth checking the rules of the country you are visiting.

Points to bear in mind when visiting healthcare settings 

If you are completely unvaccinated and want to use your health pass for visits to hospitals or care homes, you will only be able to use a certificate of recovery for up to four months after your positive test result.

If you have had a Covid vaccination but do not count as being fully vaccinated, your certificate of recovery can be seen to ‘complete’ your required doses and will remain valid indefinitely in combination with your vaccination record. 

However, this is only for domestic uses and will not work for international travel. 

Related articles 

What are the latest Covid rules for teenagers travelling to France?

France travel: Can I use proof of exemption from Covid vaccination?

Can non-residents be vaccinated against Covid in France?

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