The EU Digital COVID Certificate will facilitate safe free movement of citizens in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The certificate will be introduced in EU Member States. Countries can start issuing and using it already and it will become available in all EU Member States as of 1 July 2021.
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
How will 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.
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.
How will it help free movement?
The EU Digital COVID Certificate will be accepted in all EU Member States. It will help to 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 exempted 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 will 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.
Will citizens who are not yet vaccinated be able to travel to another EU country?
Yes. The EU Digital COVID Certificate should facilitate free movement inside the EU. It will not be a pre-condition to free movement, which is a fundamental right in the EU.
|The EU Digital COVID Certificate will also prove the results of testing, which is often required under applicable public health restrictions. The certificate is an opportunity for Member States to adjust the existing restrictions on public health grounds. The currently applicable recommendation on coordinating free movement restrictions in the EU will also be amended by mid-June with a view to the holiday season.|
Does it matter which vaccine citizens received?
Vaccination certificates will be issued to a vaccinated person for any COVID-19 vaccine.
When it comes to waiving free movement restrictions, Member States will have to accept vaccination certificates for vaccines which received EU marketing authorisation. Member States may decide to extend this also to EU travellers that received another vaccine.
It is also for Member States to decide whether they accept a vaccination certificate after one dose or after a full vaccination cycle has been completed.
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.
|Technically ready to connect to the EUDCC gateway||Effectively connected, issuing and/or verifying at least one EUDCC (vaccination, recovery, negative test)|
- 27 January
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.
- 17 March
The Commission proposed a legislative text establishing a common framework for an EU certificate.
- 14 April
The Council adopted its mandate to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal.
- 22 April
- 7 May
The Commission started the pilot test of the EU interoperability infrastructure (EU Gateway) that will facilitate the authentication of the EU Certificates.
- 20 May
The European Parliament and the Council agreed on the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
- 1 June
EU Gateway (interconnection of national systems) goes live.
- 1 - 30 June
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.
- 1 July
The EU Digital COVID Certificate enters into application throughout the EU.
- 1 July - 12 August
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.