The European Union has made its COVID-19 passport available to all EU citizens and residents, as well as to specific categories of travelers from third countries, since 1 July.
The procedure for launching the certificate has been completed by the European Union Commission since the beginning of June, and during this month the member states one by one started to implement it.
TheSchengen.com announced on June 1 that seven EU countries have already started issuing COVID-19-specific EU passports – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland. On June 4, Iceland also began implementing the pilot system for the issuance of COVID certificates.
Back in April 2020, TheSchengen.com reported that the vaccine would definitely become mandatory for those wishing to travel throughout the Schengen area once it was approved and made available.
However, the Commission first submitted a proposal to create a document that would enable those vaccinated to travel without restrictions across Europe in mid-March this year, in a bid to restore freedom of travel for vaccinated people, those who have recovered from the virus and those who have tested negative, amid COVID-19.
Since then, the proposal has undergone all EU approval procedures for regulation, and now, on July 1, all member states, with the exception of Ireland, are beginning to issue it.
Ireland had previously warned that it would likely implement the plan by mid-July and not sooner. According to European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, Ireland’s delay is the result of the recent cyber attack on the Irish health services executive.
“Because of a cyber attack in Ireland, it was difficult to reach the goal of putting all technical solutions into place before 1 July, but for all other member states we have no concerns about the way forward,” the commissioner said during a briefing in Brussels, noting that Ireland is the only country among the 27 member states of the European Union that has not yet begun to issue and verify such documents.
Next, in this article, find all the necessary information about the EU COVID-19 travel certificates, also called vaccination passports among travelers.
What is the purpose of an EU COVID-19 passport?
The European COVID-19 Travel Certificate was created by the European Union in an effort to restore freedom of travel, which has been suspended for over a year now, since the pandemic erupted across the bloc. Through the certification, the commission intends to remove travel restrictions such as entry bans and the obligation to quarantine and test.
The EU Commission has encouraged member states to remove entry restrictions on freedom of movement since mid-March 2020, for those who hold such a document, starting from 1 July, although members have the option to remove these restrictions earlier as many have already done.
While presenting the certificate, the EU Commission clarified that “when traveling, each holder of a digital green certificate will have the same rights as nationals of the visited member state who have been vaccinated, tested or recovered.”
Member states are not legally obligated to implement the certification. However, they are all already in the process of introducing it. They will still be able to impose restrictions on arrivals from other EU countries, however, they must inform the Commission and all other member states and provide reasons for taking such action.
What is an EU COVID-19 vaccine passport/certificate?
The passport/certificate of the European COVID-19 vaccination is a one-piece document that can be issued to the traveler in both paper and digital format.
Depending on the traveler’s status, three types of EU COVID-19 passports have been launched.
Certificate of Retrieval of Immunization Certificate on Passport
Those with such a document will be able to travel around Europe without the need to be quarantined or tested for COVID-19 (although member states may impose such restrictions on certain countries with a higher COVID-19 rate).
What is a vaccination permit?
All those who have been fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus will be issued an EU Passport for Coronavirus Vaccination, with one of the four vaccines approved by the European Medical Agency, namely:
Comirnaty (BioNTech, Pfizer) Moderna Vaxzevria (COVID-19 vaccine formerly AstraZeneca, Oxford) Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
The certificate will prove that the holder has been vaccinated while also containing additional information about the vaccine, such as when the doses were given, from the manufacturer, etc.
The Commission has also allowed member states to issue certificates to travelers who have been vaccinated with vaccines other than those approved by the EMA. However, the decision is up to each individual member state if it wants to allow entry to those who have been vaccinated with these vaccines or not.
What is a recovery certificate?
Travelers who have recently contracted and recovered from the COVID-19 virus must also be allowed to travel with an EU COVID travel certificate.
The EU Digital Recovery Certificate confirms that the holder has recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection after a positive test. It must be issued no later than 11 days after the first positive test,” the commission explains.
However, the commission also notes that tests that detect whether a person has developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 – also known as antibody tests – cannot be used to obtain a recovery certificate.
What is a test certificate?
All travelers who test for COVID-19 using a PCR or Rapid Antigen test, and the result is negative, can receive a COVID certificate from the European Union.
“A separate certificate will be issued for each exam and will not contain any data from previous certifications,” the commission notes.
The European Union has not yet come up with a common time frame within which these tests must be conducted, therefore, the decision is up to the member states.
Which European Union countries are scheduled to adopt the passport for vaccination against the emerging corona virus?
As shown in this map, all EU Member States and Schengen Area countries, with the exception of Ireland, apply the European COVID-19 vaccination passport. Since the publication of this map, Switzerland has also begun to implement the document.
What does a vaccine passport look like?
Despite the popular opinion that certificates will look like an ordinary passport, they are in fact a one-page document, issued in digital format and printable.
Passengers can show them to border guards, either in paper form or in their smartphones or tablets, depending on their choice.
Each certificate contains a unique machine-readable QR code that can securely verify the authenticity, integrity and validity of the certificate, as well as the digital signature. Certificates are issued in two languages, in English and the official language(s) of the issuing country.
What information does the document contain?
Each certificate contains the following information about its holder:
Name, surname and date of birth of the member state that issues the QR code for the certificate
Each certificate contains the following additional information about travelers, depending on the immunity status:
For vaccinated travelers: name of the vaccine and manufacturer, number of doses given, date(s) of vaccination for travelers tested: type of test, exact date and time of the test, name of the testing center and results for travelers who have recovered from the virus: date of positive test result, And the name of the source of the certificate, the date of issue, the date of validity Where can I get the passport for the EU vaccination?
Every EU citizen can obtain the certificate in the country where they receive the vaccine. Certificates are issued by qualified bodies in each of the European Union and Schengen countries. These bodies can be hospitals, testing centers, health authorities, etc.
According to third-country nationals who may be eligible to apply for the certificate, they must apply for this document through the member state of their destination.
How can I use the EU vaccination passport?
Wherever you travel within the European Union, you need to carry your certificate with you, either in digital or paper format. You will need to present it at the border controls you encounter when traveling.
Certificates contain their digital signature key, which is part of the QR code, in order to prevent them from being forged.
Verification is made possible through a portal created by the European Union Commission, which is now linked to member states’ national systems.
How long will this document be required?
The scheme is fully operational from July 1, 2021 to June 31, 2022.
For the first six weeks, which means until mid-August, there will be an interim period until member states can develop the ability to issue EU digital COVID certificates if they are unable to do so by July 1.
If necessary, the scheme may last longer than one year.
What about those who have already been vaccinated?
All travelers vaccinated before July 1 are still eligible to apply for certification.
How much does a vaccine passport cost?
Member states are obligated to cover the costs of EU COVID travel certificates, which means that they are free for travelers.
Can an EU citizen travel to countries outside the EU with an EU travel certificate?
EU vaccine certification is open to global initiatives such as those launched by the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The commission had previously said it was working to make the certificates compatible with those developed in third countries.
However, for now, it is still unknown if other countries will facilitate entry restrictions for those with COVID certificates from the European Union.
Can I get a passport for the vaccine if I have been vaccinated with Cocoshield?
If you have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute India (SII) known as Covishield, you can obtain a vaccine certificate for travel to at least five countries in the European Union.
It is expected that in the following days, more EU countries will start accepting the vaccine as travel-friendly since the World Health Organization has listed it for emergency use since February.
Can third-country nationals residing in the European Union obtain the certificate?
Yes, a foreign national legally residing in the EU can obtain electronic certificates, just like EU citizens.
Separate proposals to cover nationals and non-EU nationals are necessary on legal grounds; There is no difference in the treatment of nationals and eligible non-EU nationals for the purpose of obtaining certificates,” the Commission explains.
Residents of the small European states of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican are also eligible to obtain the certificates.
Is it possible that vaccination passports for travelers from third world countries will soon be issued?
As member states reopen borders for travel from non-EU countries for non-essential purposes, they also intend to issue EU COVID travel certificates to travelers from third countries intending to enter their territory.
The Commission also intends to accept certificates issued in other countries, which are issued under the same conditions as those issued by the European Union.
How do I know if my country of destination in the European Union accepts my vaccine as travel-friendly?
Differences in the vaccines accepted by member states have led to confusion among travelers. The Vaccine Screening Tool developed by VisaGuide.World enables travelers to check whether the country they are planning to visit soon has approved the vaccine with which the traveler has been immunized against COVID-19.
I am an EU citizen, but have been vaccinated outside the EU. Can I get a certificate?
Member states are advised to issue vaccination certificates to their citizens, even if they have been vaccinated in another state, including third countries.
In order for a traveler to be able to get the vaccine, he must be vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the European Union. However, member states can issue the certificate even to those who have been vaccinated with other vaccines if they are willing to do so.
Will I be discriminated against if I am not vaccinated?
The European Union has taken the necessary measures so that people who have not been vaccinated are not discriminated against when traveling through the European Union. All those who have not been vaccinated can take the COVID-19 test and travel freely.