The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation entered into application on 01 July 2021. EU citizens and residents will now be able to have their Digital COVID Certificates issued and verified across the EU.
Learn how to get the certificate from your national health authority by selecting your country on the interactive map below.
New proposal to ensure coordination on safe travel in the EU
On 25 November, the European Commission proposed to update the rules on coordination of safe and free movement in the EU, which were put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the key updates pertaining to the EU Digital COVID certificate are:
- Focus on a ‘person-based approach': A person who has a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate should in principle not be subject to additional restrictions, such as tests or quarantine, regardless of their place of departure in the EU. Persons without an EU Digital COVID Certificate could be required to undergo a test carried out prior to or after arrival.
- Standard acceptance period of vaccination certificates: To avoid diverging and disruptive approaches, the Commission proposes a standard acceptance period of 9 months for vaccination certificates issued following the completion of the primary vaccination series. This means that, in the context of travel, Member States should not refuse a vaccination certificate that has been issued less than 9 months since the administration of the last dose of the primary vaccination.
- Booster shots: As of yet, there are no studies expressly addressing the effectiveness of boosters on the transmission of COVID-19 and therefore it is not possible to determine an acceptance period for boosters. However, given the emerging data, it can be expected that protection from booster vaccinations may last longer than that resulting from the primary vaccination series. The Commission will closely monitor newly emerging scientific evidence on this issue. On the basis of such evidence, the Commission may, if needed, propose an appropriate acceptance period also for vaccination certificates issued following a booster.
The Commission also proposed an updated framework for travel from outside the EU, prioritising vaccinated travellers, with strong safeguards.
- Member States should reopen systematically to those vaccinated with vaccines having completed the WHO emergency use listing process, in addition to reopening to those vaccinated with EU-approved vaccines as is the case today. As an essential safeguard, proof of a negative PCR test will always be required for all travellers who have been vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine that is not approved by the European Medicines Agency, and for recovered travellers. The updates also introduce a time limit of 9 months for the acceptance of vaccination certificates after the primary vaccination series. The updates also include acceptance of vaccination certificates issued after an additional (“booster”) dose.
- Member States should accept non-EU vaccination and recovery certificates deemed equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
The Commission’s proposals will now be discussed by the EU Member States, who will decide on the final version of the Recommendations. The Commission proposes for the new rules to apply as of 10 January 2022.
What is the EU Digital COVID Certificate?
An EU Digital COVID Certificate is a digital proof that a person has either
|been vaccinated against COVID-19|
|received a negative test result or|
|recovered from COVID-19|
Key features of the certificate
- Digital and/or paper format
- with QR code
- free of charge
- in national language and English
- safe and secure
- valid in all EU countries
Who can get the EU Digital COVID certificate?
- All EU citizens and their family members
- Non-EU nationals who are legally staying or residing in a Member State and have the right to travel to other Member States
Yes, children can get an EU Digital COVID Certificate.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given its green light to the use of the BioNTech Pfizer vaccine Comirnaty and the Moderna vaccine Spikevax for children of 12-17 years. Children can also receive a test or recovery certificate. These certificates could also be received by their parents and stored in the parents' smartphone app.
EU Member States also agreed that minors travelling with parents should be exempt from quarantine when the parents do not need to undergo quarantine, for example due to vaccination. Children under 12 should also be exempt from travel-related testing.
How can 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.
- Vaccination certificates are issued by the Member State where the vaccination has been administered.
- Test certificates are issued by the Member State where the test has taken place.
- Recovery certificates are issued by the Member State where the recovered person is located.
Information on how to get the certificate should be provided by the national health authorities.
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.
Select your country on the interactive map below to learn how to get the certificate from your national health authority.
- El Salvador
- Faroe Islands
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
- The Vatican
How does it help free movement?
The EU Digital COVID Certificate is accepted in all EU Member States. It helps ensuring that restrictions currently in place can be lifted in a coordinated manner.
When travelling, the EU Digital COVID Certificate holder should in principle be exempt 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.
How does 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.
Are citizens who are not yet vaccinated able to travel to another EU country?
Yes. The EU Digital COVID Certificate should facilitate free movement inside the EU. It is not a pre-condition to free movement, which is a fundamental right in the EU.
Without a certificate, you might however be subject to restrictions like testing or quarantine. Member States can introduce travel restrictions. Please check Re-openEU for the latest updates.
To ensure that there is no discrimination against individuals who are not vaccinated, the EU Digital COVID Certificate also covers test certificates and certificates for persons who have recovered from COVID-19. This way everyone can benefit from the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
The recommendation on coordinating free movement restrictions in the EU was amended mid-June with a view to the holiday season, further clarifying exemptions for fully vaccinated and recovered persons, efforts to ensure family unity (exempting children traveling with their parents from quarantine, if parents are exempted) and the updated colour-coding of the ECDC map.
Does it matter which vaccine citizens received?
Vaccination certificates will be issued to a vaccinated person for any COVID-19 vaccine. The certificate should clearly indicate the name of the vaccine administered.
When it comes to waiving free movement restrictions, Member States only have to accept vaccination certificates for vaccines which received EU marketing authorisation. Member States may also decide to waive restrictions for travellers that received another vaccine, for instance those included on the WHO emergency list, but they are not obliged to. If you have been vaccinated with a vaccine not authorised in the EU, we advise you to check which vaccines are accepted by the respective Member State prior to your travel.
Fully vaccinated persons with the EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempted from travel-related testing or quarantine 14 days after having received the last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for the entire EU. The same is true for recovered persons with the certificate.
Can EU citizens, or non-EU citizens legally residing in the EU, who were vaccinated abroad get the EU certificate? If so, how?
EU citizens who were vaccinated in a third country can request the EU Digital COVID Certificate, from the Member State of their nationality or residence, if they provide reliable proof of vaccination with a vaccine also authorised in that Member State. Member States are not obliged to offer this possibility.
The list of COVID-19 vaccines administered by third countries, for which several EU Member States waive travel restrictions as they consider them as corresponding to the ones approved by the EU, is available online: https://reopen.europa.eu/en.
Alternatively, the EU can decide to automatically recognise certificates issued by other countries, by adopting equivalence decisions. Currently there are 25 countries (and territories) for which the EU adopted an equivalence decision and whose COVID certificates are recognised under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate. This includes
- El Salvador
- Faroe Islands
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
- The Vatican
Yes, an EU Digital COVID certificate should be issued already after the first vaccination dose. The number of doses administered will be clearly stated on the vaccination certificate. Member States might not accept a partial vaccination for lifting travel restrictions. Please check national travel restrictions prior to your travel with the national authorities.
Yes. A Member State, where you received the first dose should issue an EU Digital COVID Certificate indicating the first dose. The Member State, which administered the second dose, will then issue an EU Digital COVID Certificate indicating the second dose, once you provide to the authorities there the information confirming the first dose previously received.
I had a mixed vaccine (two doses come from two different vaccine providers) – can I get the EU Digital COVID Certificate?
Yes. An EU Digital COVID Certificates should be issued to any person who received a COVID-19 vaccination. Such certificate should clearly indicate the name of the vaccine and the number of doses administered.
When it comes to waiving travel restrictions, Member States agreed that EU citizens who received mixed doses in a two-dose series of COVID-19 vaccination, in line with national vaccination strategies, are considered “fully vaccinated”.
What about tests?
Persons with a negative test in the EU Digital COVID Certificate format should be exempted from possible quarantine requirements, except when they come from areas heavily affected by the virus. The Member States agreed on a standard validity period for tests: 72 hours for PCR tests and, where accepted by a Member State, 48 hours for rapid antigen tests.
Only so-called NAAT tests (including RT-PCR tests) and rapid antigen tests featured in the common list established on the basis of Council Recommendation 2021/C 24/01 are eligible for a test certificate issued under the EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation. Each Member State can decide whether it accepts rapid antigen tests, or only NAAT tests (such as RT-PCR tests).
Certificates of recovery (indicating that a person has recovered from an infection with COVID-19) can only be issued following a positive NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) such as RT-PCR test. They can be issued 11 days after the date of the initial test.
What data does the certificate include? Is the data safe?
The EU Digital COVID Certificate contains necessary key information such as name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information about vaccine/ test/recovery and a unique identifier. This data remains on the certificate and is not stored or retained when a certificate is verified in another Member State.
The certificates will only include a limited set of information that is necessary. This cannot be retained by visited countries. For verification purposes, only the validity and authenticity of the certificate is checked by verifying who issued and signed it. All health data remains with the Member State that issued an EU Digital COVID Certificate.
For any technical issues with your EU Digital COVID Certificate please contact the national authorities responsible for issuing the certificates.
Recognition of COVID certificates from third (non-EU) countries
So far, 25 non-EU countries (and territories) joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate system. This includes:
• El Salvador
• Faroe Islands
• New Zealand
• North Macedonia
• San Marino
• United Kingdom
• The Vatican
The COVID Certificates issued in those 25 countries (and territories) are accepted in the EU under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Likewise, the EU Digital COVID Certificate is accepted by those 25 countries.
Validity of the certificates
The Commission has proposed, and Member States have adopted, an update to the Council recommendation on free movement restrictions. It includes specific provisions – although Member States can be less strict as well:
- Fully vaccinated persons holding an EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempt from travel-related testing or quarantine 14 days after having received the last dose. This should also cover recovered persons having received a single dose of a 2-dose vaccine.
- Recovered persons, holding an EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempt from travel-related testing or quarantine during the first 180 days after a positive PCR test.
- Persons with an EU Digital COVID test certificate should be exempt from possible quarantine requirements: 72 hours for PCR tests and, where accepted by a Member State, 48 hours for rapid antigen tests.
Potential use of certificates for access to facilities
EU law covers the use of the EU Digital COVID Certificate to facilitate safe free movement inside the EU.
Member States can also use the COVID-19 certificates for domestic purposes, such as access to events or venues, but this is not regulated at the EU level.
In case a Member State adopts a system of COVID-19 certificate for domestic purposes, it should ensure that the EU Digital COVID Certificate is also fully accepted. This is to make sure that travellers going to another Member State do not have to obtain an additional national certificate.
For how long will the EU Digital COVID Certificate be in place?
The Regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate will apply for 12 months as from 1 July 2021. The Commission will present a report to the European Parliament and the Council three months before the end of application of the Regulation. Together with this report, the Commission could propose to extend the COVID Certificate if necessary, taking into account the evolution of the epidemiological situation on the pandemic.
Can non-EU citizens travel to the EU?
Under the current EU approach, non-EU travellers who are fully vaccinated with an EMA-authorised vaccine should be able to travel to the EU for any purpose. EU Member States can also decide to allow in those vaccinated with vaccines having completed the WHO Emergency Use Listing process.
Travel is also possible from countries where the health situation has improved sufficiently. The Council regularly reviews - and where relevant updates – a list of such countries, based on an evaluation of the health situation. All travel to the EU from countries included on this list should be possible, regardless of vaccination status. The list is available here.
In addition, family members of EU citizens and residents, as well as those who have an essential reason to come to Europe should continue to be able to do so.
How can non-EU travellers prove they have been vaccinated? Can they get an EU Digital COVID Certificate?
The purpose of the EU Digital COVID Certificate is to help facilitate free movement and travel within the EU for both EU citizens and non-EU nationals already in the EU.
When it comes to proving vaccination status for those travelling from outside the EU, EU Member States could accept vaccination certificates from non-EU countries containing the necessary data (identification of the person, type of vaccine and date of vaccination), taking into account the ability to verify the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificate.
The EU can also decide to automatically recognise certificates issued by other countries. Currently this is the case for 25 countries:
- El Salvador
- Faroe Islands
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
- The Vatican
The COVID Certificates issued in these countries are accepted in the EU under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
Lastly, an EU Member State may, upon request, issue an EU Digital COVID Certificate to a non-EU national wishing to travel to the EU, provided that all reliable proof of vaccination, has been presented, but it is not obliged to do so.
For more details as regards the rules in place for non-EU nationals to enter from outside the EU, you can consult the Re-open EU website.
Re-open EU: up-to-date information on travel and health measures
Find up-to-date information on travel and health measures in European countries, including on quarantine and testing requirements for travellers, to help you exercise your right to free movement. The information is updated frequently and available in 24 languages. This should help you plan your travel in Europe, while staying safe and healthy.
Guidelines laying out interoperability requirements of digital vaccination certificates were adopted, building on discussion held between the Commission and Member States in the eHealth Network since November 2020. The Commission proposed a legislative text establishing a common framework for an EU certificate. The Council adopted its mandate to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal. The Commission started the pilot test of the EU interoperability infrastructure (EU Gateway) that will facilitate the authentication of the EU Certificates. The European Parliament and the Council agreed on the EU Digital COVID Certificate. EU Gateway (interconnection of national systems) goes live. Warm-up phase: Member States can launch the certificate on a voluntary basis provided they are ready to issue and verify certificates, and have the necessary legal base in place. Revised Council Recommendation on travel within the EU. The EU Digital COVID Certificate enters into application throughout the EU. Phase-in period: if a Member State is not yet ready to issue the new certificate to its citizens, other formats can still be used and should be accepted in other Member States.
Guidelines laying out interoperability requirements of digital vaccination certificates were adopted, building on discussion held between the Commission and Member States in the eHealth Network since November 2020.
The Commission proposed a legislative text establishing a common framework for an EU certificate.
The Council adopted its mandate to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal.
The Commission started the pilot test of the EU interoperability infrastructure (EU Gateway) that will facilitate the authentication of the EU Certificates.
The European Parliament and the Council agreed on the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
EU Gateway (interconnection of national systems) goes live.
Warm-up phase: Member States can launch the certificate on a voluntary basis provided they are ready to issue and verify certificates, and have the necessary legal base in place.
Revised Council Recommendation on travel within the EU.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate enters into application throughout the EU.
Phase-in period: if a Member State is not yet ready to issue the new certificate to its citizens, other formats can still be used and should be accepted in other Member States.