French health pass for travelers

France’s health pass (“passe sanitaire” or vaccine passport) enters into action on Monday August 4, 2021. Keeping track of the various rules and regulations can be difficult. What does it mean for travelers? Here’s an overview of the current situation. Please note that these regulations will likely change over time.

Airlines: business as usual

The implementation of the health pass has the least impact on airlines compared to other forms of travel. Most airlines in France already check documents for international flights as well as for Corsica.

Air France in particular does not expect an increase in boarding times, as the company already has a validation process for passengers’ health documents. This system, called “Ready-To-Fly”, is used in particular to Corsica, the French overseas territories and Greece. Roughly a quarter of their passengers have already signed up.

Trains: no systematic controls

For train travel, passes will be checked by station agents, controllers, security teams or volunteers, possibly supported by the police. All of them will wear blue chasubles or armbands. The SNCF is also going to experiment with pre-boarding controls. This would allow someone wearing a single-use blue bracelet to access the platform. The challenge will be to control 300,000 to 400,000 passengers per day.

It’s worth remembering that there is a possibility that passengers might be checked at departure, during the journey or on arrival. If a passenger does not have a valid pass upon boarding, tickets can be exchanged or refunded. But there is a risk of a 135-euro fine.

Coaches: extra staff

For inter-city coaches, such as FlixBus and BlaBlaCar (see their conditions here), the health pass will be checked by the driver upon boarding, at the same time as the ticket. Extra staff is being recruited to help drivers with the task and avoid delays. Nonetheless, it is perhaps worth allowing extra time for this process.

Carpooling: no checks at the moment

Although the health pass is not mandatory for carpooling, BlaBlaCar has said a feature that will allow its users to indicate whether or not they agree to present their pass at the start will soon be available. It aims at reassuring travelers and drivers.

Once on the road, it will be difficult for the police and gendarmes to carry out controls to determine whether a group of people is carpooling or just a group of friends or families traveling together. The health pass will not be compulsory.

Although there is much talk about not following the rules, a large majority of French people are in favour of them. It is more than likely they will be applied. Follow Cannes or Bust on Twitter for updates.

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