EU Digital COVID Certificate for Travel Officially Takes Off
Jul 1, 2021
The EU Digital COVID Certificate, which will facilitate safe free movement within the European Union during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, officially launched on Thursday, July 1.
Aiming to facilitate travel, the certificate serves as proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the coronavirus. For the next 12 months, the certificate can be used across all EU Member States as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The certificate is expected to soon be used also in Switzerland.
According to EU authorities, when travelling, the EU Digital COVID Certificate holder should in principle be exempted from free movement restrictions. Member States should refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on the holders of an EU Digital COVID Certificate, unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health.
In such a case – for instance as a reaction to new variants of concern – that Member State would have to notify the Commission and all other Member States and justify this decision.
The EU Digital COVID Certificates is free of charge.
Several EU countries have already begun using the EU Digital COVID Certificate but as of July 1, all European Union citizens can get their EU Digital COVID Certificate issued and verified across Europe. Guidelines for Greece’s digital COVID certificate can be found here.
How will citizens get the certificate?
National authorities are in charge of issuing the certificate. It could, for example, be issued by test centres or health authorities, or directly via an eHealth portal.
The information included in the EU Digital COVID Certificate
The EU Digital COVID Certificate contains only necessary information such as name, date of birth, the certificate issuer and a unique identifier of the certificate. In addition:
- For a vaccination certificate: vaccine type and manufacturer, number of doses received, date of vaccination;
- For a test certificate: type of test, date and time of test, place and result;
- For a recovery certificate: date of positive test result, validity period.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate is available in digital format, for instance in a smartphone app, or on paper, as each person prefers. The certificates contain a QR code with the necessary data as well as a digital signature. The QR code is used to securely verify the authenticity, integrity and validity of the certificate. The information on the certificate is written in the language(s) of the issuing Member State and in English. A common design template was developed with Member States to facilitate the recognition of EU COVID Certificates issued in paper format.
For Member States that are not ready to issue certificates from July 1, the EU’s regulation provides for a phasing-in period of six weeks, when other formats can still be used and should be accepted in other Member States.
It should be clarified that:
– No one is obliged to use the EU Digital COVID Certificate. It is not obligatory to have in order to travel.
– The EU Digital COVID Certificate is not a travel document nor a precondition for travel. It aims to make it easier for people to cross European internal borders without facing additional travel restrictions.
– Everyone’s rights over their data would be protected in line with the EU’s strict General Data Protection Rules.
It is reminded that the EU COVID certificate idea was initially tabled by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in January, with the aim to enable the restart of travel and support EU economies. Greece’s digital certificate has been available from June 1.
Further information on the EU Digital COVID Certificate can be found here.
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