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  • Writer's pictureDavid Natale

So what exactly do I DO to get into France?

What' the difference between the Health Declaration form and the Covid Pass and where do I get them? Is this the same as my vaccination pass? When do I do this?

Entering and traveling in Europe is a little less simpler than it was a few months ago, but that's no reason to stress yourselves out. It's actually pretty easy and just requires a few extra steps of preparation.

As an ex-Disney employee living in Europe for 21 years I have heard (and agreed with) a fair amount of humour and teasing that goes with the idea of the Disneyfication of the world. Yet if anything can be easily explained today with Spoonful of Sugar example it's the current travel and health code needs of each European country and their Covid restrictions-rules for entry.

Keep Calm, Vaccinate, and Print out your Fast Passes!

You basically need two important things to get into each European country right now in addition to a valid passport and your vaccination proof: a Self Check-In Health Pass Admission Ticket (MANDATORY) & A Covid Vaccine Fast Pass (VIP UPGRADE).

Countries likes Spain, France, and Germany all require this "Self Printed Ticket for Admission" for entering their borders and it is obtained by answering their health declaration questions. More countries are switching to this system, too, so Ama keeps their guests up to date with a Travel Entry Application webpage which can be located using our specially prepared Info Page.

Now that the EU has the US on the High Risk list you will need a "ticket" for every country that you are passing through during your trip which requires it, not just the country of entry (yes, even for transit for some of them - so just do it!)

You can check at this page for every country you will go thru on your Ama trip as each country's "admission ticket" is a little different than the other's and a mere week ago travelers only needed a form for the country of entry into the EU, but in an example of just how quickly things change, forms are now needed for almost almost all of the countries you'll travel thru.

These "Self Printed Tickets for Admission" do not take long to fill out, are pretty easy, and should be printed out once completed or downloaded onto your phone if possible.

Your airline will be the first to ask for one of these admission tickets. They will care about the one for your country of entry and possibly for any country you transit thru. On my recent flight thru Madrid to Berlin I had to have the Spanish QR code since I was arriving from France: it was requested at check-in and then not again. Instead of asking "do I need one if I am just transitting" just fill one out if you are going into a country that has one. It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

If you are traveling with AmaWaterways they will want one of these "health declaration admission tickets" for each country you are going to. If you only brought one for your country of entry, they will also supply any others you need and help you to complete these forms/tickets. Do not worry!

I just returned from the Taste of Bordeaux trip and we started our trip in Bilbao, Spain with Ama's pre-cruise package. At the time of our trip travellers only needed the Spanish QR code to enter Spain and it was(is) a very simple and well run, two-step online process to complete.

Every person entering Spain needs this QR code

Since our Spanish pre-cruise tour also headed to France to begin our cruise, we also needed France's "admission ticket" and this process for entering France was handled effectively and easily by our terrific cruise manager. Some came prepared, some did not, but our cruise manager Cesario took care of it all with ease.

Cesario had the French health declaration forms that we needed for entering France. Some people had already printed out their own copy from online, some needed to re-do them, but had plenty of copies for everyone and it took less than 5 minutes to get it all sorted.

Let me be clear that this health declaration form is different than the vaccine certificate passport form. The health declaration form is the mandatory form needed for all people entering France whether by air or road or river and is your "Admission ticket to the park".

Once we finished our tours in Spain and headed to France, we were all prepared for when we crossed the French border.

We arrived in France from Spain by bus and we were stopped at the border and the police did come on and verify that everyone had the form and had a vaccine.

People's official vaccine card was all that was necessary for proof of vaccination for border crossing (or airport entry). Once that was shown along with the "Admission health form" all was well. For us, it was particularly quick and simple because Cesario and our Tour Guide had all the paperwork in order. The officer doing the checking appreciated how orderly everything was, asked if he could come along on our trip, and then let us drive on.

Anyone sailing on the Rhine who will enter France by ship will experience a similar routine and will have that form supplied by the cruise manager to be filled out and turned in to the ship on board. It’s easy and takes just a few moments to fill out.

Now we get to the "Fast Pass".

As I mentioned above, only the official vaccine card was need to enter the country, but the "French Covid Passport" (FAST PASS) is what gets you seamlessly in and out of everything and it is a whole other ball-game - consider this the Disney Fast Pass.

We found a 40/60 split among businesses that demanded the fast pass code "ONLY" to those who would take either your card or the pass/Code. So don’t panic if you’ve applied online for this code and not yet received it.

While there are some museums that absolutely demand it (and you will have to jump thru their hoops for the pleasure of visiting them) some places were fine with just seeing your card. Understand, that a normal restaurant may not know if your official card is real or not and may demand the surety of the "fast pass", so if you really, really want to go to a particular place, you need to get the Covid Passport Fast Pass.

My recent trip occurred just as France was implementing the online sign up for this pass. Only 30% of my people got it before they left, some got it while traveling, others are already home and still haven't gotten it. Not one single person's trip was affected because they didn't have the fast pass.

Ama was our Fast Pass.

First of all, any tour or spot that Ama took us to made sure to have registered the proof of vaccine so we were whisked in just like before and were not even asked for our individual proof. It made no difference whether we had the code or not because Ama was our Fast Pass.

It was only when we went off on our own to restaurants where some were asked. No one was refused that I know of. I myself used my German Pass app and it was accepted everywhere. The German cell phone app showing my code was my Fast Pass and is accepted EU wide.

Some of those on our trip who did not receive their passcode via email before they left found a workaround for this ‚fast pass’ code once they arrived in France. They simply stopped in at a pharmacy and got it. It took 45 minutes and 25€.

Just know that your vaccination status is the most important factor of how country classifications are implemented. Non-vaccinated people are either refused entry or must quarantine for up to 14 days and must report.. vaccinated people do not. This is why Ama ONLY accepts vaccinated guests.

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