covid certificate

The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation entered into application on 1 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 rules on the validity of EU Digital COVID Certificate and the coordination of safe travel in the EU

As of 1 February 2022, there are new rules in place that establish a binding acceptance period of 9 months for vaccination certificates, used for travel within the EU .

Member States must accept vaccination certificates for a period of 9 months following the administration of the last dose of the primary vaccination. For the Johnson&Johnson vaccine this means 270 days from the first and only shot. For a two-dose vaccine it means 270 days from the second shot, or, in line with the vaccination strategy of the Member State of vaccination, the first and only shot after having recovered from the virus.

Member States should not provide for a different acceptance period for the purposes of travel within the European Union. The standard acceptance period does not apply to certificates for booster doses.

These rules apply only to the vaccination certificates used for the purpose of travel in the EU. Member States may apply different rules when using the EU Digital COVID Certificate in a domestic context, but are invited to align with the acceptance period set at EU level.

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 should be allowed to travel based on a test carried out prior to or after arrival. In addition, they might be required to undergo quarantine/self-isolation when they arrive from particularly affected (dark red) areas.

Any measures restricting free movement must be non-discriminatory and proportionate. Member States should, in principle, not refuse entry to persons travelling from other Member States.

What is the EU Digital COVID Certificate?

An EU Digital COVID Certificate is a digital proof that a person has either

tick icon been vaccinated against COVID-19
tick icon received a negative test result or
tick icon recovered from COVID-19

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

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.

Recognition by the EU of COVID certificates issued by third (non-EU) countries

So far, 40 non-EU countries (and territories) have joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, based on EU equivalence decisions.

The COVID certificates issued in those 40 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 40 countries.

How does the certificate work?

QR code icon The EU Digital COVID Certificate contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect it against falsification.
Scan icon When the certificate is checked, the QR code is scanned and the signature verified.
digital signature icon 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.
validation icon

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 does it help free movement?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate is accepted in all EU Member States. It helps 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 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.

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.

Travel

In January 2022, rules on coordination of safe and free movement in the EU were updated to take into account the status of the person instead of the epidemiological situation at regional level, with the exception of areas where the virus is circulating at very high levels.

Frequently asked questions on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, vaccinations and travel restrictions

Can non-EU citizens travel to the EU?

The Council agreed on an updated framework on 22 February 2022, further facilitating travel to the EU. Member States agreed to apply these updates as of 1 March 2022.

Under this approach, non-EU travellers who are vaccinated with an EU or WHO-approved vaccine should be able to travel to the EU, provided they have received the last dose of the primary vaccination series at least 14 days and no more than 270 days before arrival, or provided they have received a booster dose.

In addition, those who recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days prior to travelling to the EU should be able to travel to the EU if they can prove their recovery with an EU Digital COVID Certificate or a non-EU certificate deemed equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Persons travelling from a country or territory included on the list of countries from where all travel should be possible and who hold proof of a negative PCR test should also be able to travel to the EU. 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.

In addition, EU citizens and residents, and their family members, as well as those who have an essential reason to come to Europe should continue to be able to do so.

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 booster doses be included in the EU Digital COVID Certificate?

Most Member States have already started to administer COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. An EU Digital COVID Certificate must be issued after the administration of each dose. This means that Member States must also issue a vaccination certificate in the EU Digital COVID Certificate format after the administration of an additional dose.

As of 1 February, new rules also have to be implemented as regards the encoding of booster shots in Certificate. Boosters will be recorded as: 3/3 for a booster dose following a primary 2-dose vaccination series; 2/1 for a booster dose following a single-dose vaccination or a one dose of a 2-dose vaccine administered to a recovered person.

How does a test certificate work?

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.

What data does the EU Digital COVID 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 are checked by verifying who issued and signed it. All health data remains with the Member State that issued an EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Validity of the certificates

A valid EU digital COVID certificate includes:

a vaccination certificate where at least 14 and no more than 270 days have passed since the last dose of the primary vaccination series or if the person has received a booster dose

OR

a negative PCR test result obtained no more than 72 hours before travelling or a negative rapid antigen test obtained no more than 24 hours before travelling

OR

a certificate of recovery indicating that no more than 180 days have passed since the date of the first positive PCR test result

Validity of certificates issued after a booster shot

At this stage, the Commission does not propose a validity period for certificates issued based on booster shots. This means that the 9-month validity period should not apply to certificates issued following booster shots. 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 this basis, the Commission may, at a later stage, propose if necessary to introduce a validity period also for vaccination certificates issued following a booster if necessary.

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 certification 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?

Currently, the Regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate applies for 12 months from 1 July 2021. In February 2022, the Commission proposed to extend it by a year, until 30 June 2023. Extending the Regulation would ensure that travellers can continue using their COVID Certificate when travelling in the EU even when Member States maintain certain public health measures.

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.

Visit Re-open EU

Timeline

  • 25 January 2022

    Council adopts a revised recommendation on measures ensuring coordination of safe travel in the EU, based on the individual situation of persons and no longer on the region of origin.

  • 21 December 2021

    The Commission adopts rules establishing a binding acceptance period of 9 months of vaccination certificates for the purposes of intra-EU travel.

  • 1 July - 12 August 2021

    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.

  • 1 July 2021

    The EU Digital COVID Certificate enters into application throughout the EU.

  • mid-June 2021

    Revised Council Recommendation on travel within the EU.

  • 1 - 30 June 2021

    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.

  • 1 June 2021

    EU Gateway (interconnection of national systems) goes live.

  • 20 May 2021

    The European Parliament and the Council agreed on the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

  • 7 May 2021

    The Commission started the pilot test of the EU interoperability infrastructure (EU Gateway) that will facilitate the authentication of the EU Certificates.

  • 22 April 2021

    Member States' representatives in the eHealth Network agreed on guidelines describing the main technical specifications for the implementation of the system. This was a crucial step for the establishment of the necessary infrastructure at EU level.

  • 14 April 2021

    The Council adopted its mandate to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal.

  • 17 March 2021

    The Commission proposed a legislative text establishing a common framework for an EU certificate.

  • 27 January 2021

    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.

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