Can Americans Get A French ‘Pass Sanitaire’?

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On July 21, France announced that it would be joining the ranks of countries requiring use of a pass sanitaire for entry to restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, museums, tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, domestic trains and airplanes, and even outdoor terraces. (Use of le métro simply requires you to wear a mask.) These measures will kick into effect on August 9.

The pass sanitaire is a QR code that can be scanned to show your vaccination status or proof of a negative COVID-19 test (from within the past 48 hours), using the app TousAntiCovid, which has been used over the past year as a tool for contact tracing. The five accepted COVID-19 vaccines in France are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Covishield. This is part of a European Union-wide movement to standardize COVID-19 screening using an EU Digital COVID Certificate, or ‘digital green certificate.’

However, this new mandate will pose problems for visitors from the U.S., who, though they are now allowed to travel to France, do not have access to the pass sanitaire. If you try and download the TousAntiCovid app, you will be asked to scan a QR code on your vaccination card… which the CDC-issued cards do not have.

So, let’s say you’ve found yourself in France, and you’re fully vaccinated, but have no way to prove it. What do you do?

First off, carry your CDC vaccination card with you. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get it laminated before it crumples to dust in your wallet from overuse.) Most museums and restaurants will accept the CDC card, though they may not accept a photo or a copy of it, and they’re definitely not interested in any local or regional digital passes (like New York’s Excelsior). You will also need to provide photo ID, namely, a passport.

You can get a 48-hour pass sanitaire using the app if you get a negative COVID test in France, but if you’re staying for a while, that could become a hassle.

For those planning on sticking around in France, there is a workaround, at least if you’re in Paris. The Hôtel-Dieu hospital in the 4th arrondissement has set up a small office dedicated to converting American vaccination cards into French health passes. You may have to wait in line for up to an hour, but it’s the only way to do it by the book as of now. Hôtel de Ville was also briefly offering health pass conversion services, but stopped due to lack of resources, so it is possible that the Hôtel-Dieu may not be the go-to spot for long. But if you happen to be in Paris, it couldn’t hurt to get yourself registered in the EU system.

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