20th May 2022
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The EU Digital Covid Certificate has officially started – full details

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (20 July)

ALSO READ: New requirements for UK arrivals to Spain from Friday 2 July – full details

From today (Thursday 1 July), the EU Digital Covid Certificate (also referred to as the Digital Green Pass or vaccine passport) officially comes into effect, set by the European Regulation for ‘the rights of citizens and the obligation of member States’. It is essentially a QR code made available in digital form on smartphones or hard copy. 

Under EU law, the aim of the certificate is to do away with the need for quarantine or further testing when travelling between the EU’s 27 countries or four associated European nations (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). However, with the on-going, fast-spreading Delta variant of Covid-19, many countries might still be introducing separate measures [see further details below and links for areas marked green in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s traffic light system, plus ‘Re-open EU’].

The EU Digital Covid Certificate is to be used as digital proof that a person has either:

  • been fully vaccinated against Covid-19
  • received a negative test result,
  • or recovered from Covid-19

The EU Digital Covid Certificate is to therefore let travellers easily prove that they meet the conditions for entering another EU member state by either having recovered from Covid-19, or possessing a negative diagnostic test (either PCR or antigen) taken 48 hours before arrival, or being fully vaccinated (the last dose administered at least 14 days before travel), with one of the EU’s approved jabs (from BioNTech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson).

Depending on the epidemiological situation, travellers from some areas of Europe might not be required to show evidence of vaccination, testing or recovery. These are the areas marked green in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s traffic light system. However, because of the fast-changing health status of each country, especially with the more-infectious Delta variant of Covid-19, it is strongly advised to travel with the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

The European Commission has stated that: ‘EU Certificates can be issued and used in all EU Member States to facilitate free movement during the Covid-19 pandemic. All EU citizens and their family members, as well as non-EU nationals legally staying or residing in the Member States and who have the right to travel to other Member States, are eligible to receive such certificates free of charge.’

The Commission has also stated that, ‘the EU certificate only includes a minimum set of information necessary to confirm and verify the holder’s vaccination, testing or recovery status.’

The key features of the certificate are:

In Spain, it has already been used progressively and on a trial basis throughout June. Since 9 June, most regional governments in Spain started issuing digital certificates for citizens to verify having been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or having recovered from the disease.

Spain’s national and regional authorities are in charge of issuing the certificates. It could, for example, be issued by test centres or regional health authorities, or directly via a region’s eHealth portal. Any citizen who requests the certificate via the Spanish Ministry of Health website must be able to prove that they have been vaccinated or that they have overcome the disease. For further information, here is the current link set up (in Spanish) on the central ministry’s website to apply for a certificate: https://cvd.sanidad.gob.es/cvdcovid/cvdcovid-formulario/index.xhtml. We recommend our readers to contact their regional health portals.

Without the EU Digital Covid Certificate, it is still possible to travel within the EU in compliance with the health requirements, but the process of entering the country will be slower and additional measures, such as testing and quarantine, may be put in place.

‘Re-open EU’: up-to-date information on travel & health measures

The EU has also launched a new site, ‘Re-open EU’, for up-to-date information on travel and health measures in European countries, including on quarantine and testing requirements for travellers. The information is updated frequently and available in 24 languages. 

Image to simulate the use of the EU Digital Certificate.
Image to simulate the use of the EU Digital Certificate. (Christophe Licoppe / EU)

Here are further FAQ regarding the EU Digital Covid Certificate

How will the certificate work?

  • The EU Digital Covid Certificate contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect it against falsification.
  • When the certificate is checked, the QR code is scanned and the signature verified.
  • Each issuing body (e.g. a hospital, a test centre, a health authority) has its own digital signature key. All of these are stored in a secure database in each country.
  • The European Commission has built a gateway through which all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU. The personal data of the certificate holder does not pass through the gateway, as this is not necessary to verify the digital signature. The European Commission also helped Member States to develop national software and apps to issue, store and verify certificates and supported them in the necessary tests to on-board the gateway.

How will citizens get the certificate?

  • EU Member States’ 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 digital version can be stored on a mobile device. Citizens can also request a paper version. Both will have a QR code that contains essential information, as well as a digital signature to make sure the certificate is authentic.
  • Member States have agreed on a common design that can be used for the electronic and paper versions to facilitate the recognition.

How will it help free movement?

  • The EU Digital Covid Certificate will be accepted in all EU Member States. It will help to ensure that restrictions currently in place can be lifted in a coordinated manner.
  • 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.

Will citizens who are not yet vaccinated be able to travel to another EU country?

  • Yes. The EU Digital Covid Certificate should facilitate free movement inside the EU. It will not be a pre-condition to free movement, which is a fundamental right in the EU.
  • The EU Digital Covid Certificate will also prove the results of testing, which is often required under applicable public health restrictions. The certificate is an opportunity for Member States to adjust the existing restrictions on public health grounds. The currently applicable recommendation on coordinating free movement restrictions in the EU will also be amended by mid-June with a view to the holiday season.
Library image (Xavier Lejeune / EU)
Library image (Xavier Lejeune / EU)

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2 comments

Diane McCormick 5th July 2021 at 9:52 am

This morning I have had to clear 3 discarded masks from my front gate. Absolutely disgusting, also walking past the recycling bins on friday there was a sofa and 2 mattresses. To have these items collected one has only to phone a local town hall and they will collect from the owners property. This happens every summer! Is there a way your paper could impress on people for health reasons to dispose of their rubbish safely.

Reply
Gilli Murphy 19th July 2021 at 3:24 pm

I am finding it extremely difficult to understand why UK will not accept our EU Covid Certificates, when EU is accepting the UK Certificates. We have been jabbed with the same vaccines used un UK so why can my friends who are visiting Spain return and not have to isolate but I have to? Does the British government actually know what they are doing or are they just playing political games with Europe.

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