Questions and Answers on the EU Digital Covid Certificate

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Parliament and Council negotiators agreed on an EU Digital Covid Certificate to facilitate travel within the EU without discrimination from 1 July.

EU member states have introduced travel restrictions in order to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Commission drafted a proposal to create an EU Digital Covid Certificate (initially called “Digital Green Certificate”) to facilitate travel within Europe through a commonly agreed document with a standard format, stating that a person has been vaccinated, has tested negative or has recovered from COVID-19. These three types of certification would be secure and accepted throughout the EU.

MEPs voted on the European Parliament’s position on 29 April and swiftly started negotiations with the Council on 3 May. An informal agreement was reached on 20 May. The Parliament as a whole and the member states now need to formally approve the regulation for it to come into use as of 1 July.

Why do we need such a certificate?

The EU Digital Covid Certificate is designed to restore free movement within the EU and is one of the key preconditions for the economic recovery. A single certificate format will help the tourism sector and transport providers, such as airlines, trains, coaches and ferries across all member states. It will be issued by member states and carry information in the relevant language and English.

What is a vaccination certificate?

The EU Digital Covid Certificate for vaccination will record that a vaccination has been administered in a secure and reliable digital format with a QR code. It will be easy to prove that you have received a jab. It could be issued after each dose and will state if the course of vaccination is completed, depending on the type of vaccine you have received.

What is a test certificate?

The EU Digital Covid Certificate for tests can be issued for PCR or Rapid Antigen Tests. It records this medical information in a secure and reliable digital format with a QR code. It will be easy to prove that you have a negative result if required by a member state upon entry. A separate certificate will be issued for each test and will not contain any data from previous certificates.

What is a recovery certificate?

The EU Digital Covid Certificate of recovery confirms that the holder has recovered from a SARS-CoV-2 infection following a positive test. It should be issued no earlier than 11 days after the first positive test. A QR code will access the results in a secure and reliable way. Currently antibody tests — which detect if a person developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 — cannot be used to obtain a recovery certificate.

Will this certificate be obligatory to travel?

No. No one will be obliged to use the EU Digital Covid Certificate. However, only the EU Digital Covid Certificate will guarantee that you can cross internal EU borders without additional requirements, as it will be accepted by all member states.

Is the certificate a “vaccine passport”?

No. The EU Digital Covid certificate will not be a travel document nor a precondition for travel. However, such a certificate will help you to easily prove in all EU member states that you have been vaccinated, had a recent negative test or have recently recovered from COVID-19.

Could I still face restrictions when I arrive in a country even if I have a valid EU Digital Covid certificate?

Before travelling, you should check if any emergency public health measures and restrictions apply at your destination. Member states may apply non-discriminatory additional measures only when the public health situation has seriously deteriorated, and after having duly informed the European Commission.

I am an EU citizen but have been vaccinated outside the EU, can I get a certificate?

Member states may issue vaccination certificates upon request to persons, in particular EU citizens and family members, who have been vaccinated in a third country and can provide reliable proof of vaccination. Member states will not be required to issue certificates if the vaccine is not authorised for use on its territory.

Will I face discrimination if I am not vaccinated?

No. Persons who are not vaccinated should not be discriminated against and vaccination should not be a precondition to exercise free movement rights or to use transport services such as airlines, trains, coaches or ferries or any other means of cross-border transport.

How much do I have to pay for the certificate?

Nothing. The certificate will be free of charge.

Which vaccines will be recognised?

Member states must accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for persons inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). It will be up to the member states to decide whether they also accept vaccination certificates that have been authorised by other Member States following national authorisation procedures or for vaccines listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use.

How long will this certificate exist?

The legislation will be in place for 12 months, starting 1 July 2021. Member states will need to be ready to accept certificates from this date. There will be a phase-in period of six weeks for member states to develop the capacity to issue their own EU Digital Covid certificates if they cannot already do so.

I was vaccinated before the entry into force of the EU Digital Covid certificate regulation, is my certificate valid?

Persons vaccinated before the certificate came into use should have the right to obtain the EU Digital Covid Certificate subject to presenting proof of vaccination. Certificates issued before 1 July 2021 will be accepted for the first six weeks of application of the regulation if they contain all the necessary information.

Could the EU Digital Covid certificate be extended?

This would require a new legislative proposal to be presented by the European Commission and decided upon by the European Parliament and the Council. Prior to any such proposal, the Commission must thoroughly assess whether the certificate has facilitated free movement, travel and tourism, and its impact on fundamental rights and non-discrimination.

What if I don’t have a smartphone?

The certificate would be available in digital and paper format. Holders may choose in which format they want to receive it.

Will my data be stored?

There will be no central EU database containing medical data. Everyone’s rights over their data will be protected in line with the EU’s strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Will COVID-19 tests become cheaper across the EU?

MEPs insisted on making tests widely available at affordable prices, if not free of charge. Through the Emergency Support Instrument, the EU Commission will provide funding of €100 million to offer testing in particular for persons who cross borders daily or frequently to go to work or school, visit close relatives, or to seek medical care. To make rapid antigen tests available at affordable prices to member states, the EU launched a joint purchase of 500 million tests.

Disclaimer : This is not official information and should be checked against the final text adopted and published in the Official Journal, as well as national rules.

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