The European Union has announced the launch of its Digital Covid Certificate, established to allow freedom of movement in the block.
Already, nine countries are using the scheme to issue certificates, with more expected to join before the scheme is officially launched on July 1. The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve the scheme on June 9. "The EU will be in time to reopen this summer," Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement.
So who is eligible for the certificate and how is it obtained? This is what you should know.
What is it?
This is what will hopefully open up travel within Europe this summer and ease the pressure on travelers from running multiple tests. Currently, if you cross two EU countries you will have to comply with each of their individual entry rules, which could mean daily testing if you are driving or taking the train across the continent.
The certificate, however, will record three things: the holder's vaccination record, negative tests, or a record of previous infection, which should make travel easier. It will be valid in all EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. And in Switzerland it also seems likely.
Is it the same as the EU covid vaccine passport?
Yes, it is the EU’s plan to travel within the block. Also known as 'immunity pass' or 'health pass', although the EU Digital Covid Certificate is the official (and softer) name.
Is it a digital or paper certificate?
That depends on the holder; you can choose either one. Both contain a "digitally signed QR code" that can be scanned upon entering a country. It will be in the national language of the issuing country and in English. The member states have agreed on a common design.
How does it work?
Each issuing body has been assigned a digital signature, which is embedded in the QR code. Border personnel will scan the QR code to see the data, although no personal data will be seen - nor the holder's personal data that countries use to verify signatures.
When does it start?
The scheme officially starts on July 1, and member states can receive an additional six weeks if needed. However, with European countries competing for visitors, it seems doubtful that there are any laggards. In fact, nine member states are already issuing certificates. The European Parliament has yet to vote on the plan to make it law, but it is expected to pass by a large majority. The plan has been in the planning process since March and was tentatively agreed on May 20. The EU Gateway went live on June 1 and allows certificates to be verified across borders.
What countries are using it?
As of June 8, there are nine registered EU member states: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Poland and Spain.
Do I need to get vaccinated to receive it?
No. The certificate will also store recent covid-19 recovery, as well as negative test results, including flow laterals and PCR.
Does the vaccine I received affect the certificate?
Yes. Only vaccines approved for use in the EU count, so Sinovac or Sputnik V, for example, would not count. At least, that's the rule of the whole block; individual countries can modify the rules. Currently, the EU has approved vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. How many people already have the Digital Covid Certificate? More than a million people have already signed up on Tuesday, according to the European Commission.
How many people already have the Digital Covid Certificate?
More than a million people have already signed up on Tuesday, according to the European Commission.
How to obtain the certificate?
Each country will issue its own certificates, either through a portal, through health authorities or in testing centers.