1. What is the EU Digital COVID Certificate?

What are the main elements of the EU Digital COVID Certificate?

  • The EU Digital COVID Certificate system covers 3 different types of COVID-19 certificate:
    • a vaccination certificate,
    • a test certificate,
    • a certificate of recovery.
  • The EU Digital COVID Certificates are issued and used in all EU Member States and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, as well as Switzerland to help people travel freely between these different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • All EU citizens and their family members, as well as non-EU nationals legally staying or residing in an EU Member State and who have the right to travel to other EU Member States, are eligible to receive such certificates.
  • The certificates are free – you do not have to pay for them.
  • The EU Digital COVID Certificate only includes a minimum set of information necessary to confirm and verify the holder's vaccination, testing or recovery status.
  • Being vaccinated is not a pre-condition to travel. All EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement between different EU Member States, and this applies regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.
  • EU Member States may decide to use the EU Digital COVID Certificate for national purposes, for example for access to cultural events, restaurants, or the workplace. This is not covered by EU law and is a matter for EU Member States to decide.

What information does the EU Digital COVID Certificate include?

The information contained in the EU Digital COVID Certificate is limited to what is necessary to provide the proof required. This includes name, date of birth, the certificate issuer and a unique identifier for the certificate. In addition:

  • for a vaccination certificate: vaccine type and manufacturer, number of doses received, date of vaccination;
  • for a test certificate: type of test, date and time of test, place and result;
  • for a recovery certificate: date of positive test result, validity period.

How long will the EU Digital COVID Certificate be in place?

The EU law that created the certificate – the EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation – was initially set to apply for 12 months, from 1 July 2021 until 30 June 2022.

On 29 June 2022, the European Parliament and the Council adopted an extension of the EU Digital COVID Regulation until 30 June 2023.

Why has the Commission proposed to extend the EU Digital COVID Certificate system until 30 June 2023?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate was put in place as a short-term measure to facilitate travel during the COVID-19 crisis. 

However, the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 cannot currently be predicted, and also depends on whether or not new variants emerge.

The extension will allow persons to continue using their certificate to travel across the EU should a rise in infections make it necessary for EU Member States to temporarily reintroduce travel restrictions during the second half of 2022 and first half of 2023. Without this extension, we would have risked having many different national systems, and all the confusion and obstacles that would go with it.

For more information you can consult the Commission’s Report of 15 March 2022 with a detailed assessment of the application of the EU Digital COVID Certificate so far, and the reasons to extend it.

However, this extension should not to be understood as requiring EU Member States, in particular those that lift domestic public health measures, to maintain or impose free movement restrictions. Any restrictions to the free movement of persons within the EU put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including the requirement to present EU Digital COVID Certificates, should be lifted as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.

That is why the extension is again strictly time-limited and will apply until 30 June 2023. In addition, by 31 December 2022, the Commission will publish a report on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, which may be accompanied by a proposal to shorten the period of application of the Regulation, taking into account the evolution of the epidemiological situation.

Apart from the extension, which additional changes have been made to the EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation?

Together with the extension, the European Parliament and the Council agreed to introduce some additional changes to the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, so that it is even more accessible to citizens.

In particular, EU Member States are able to issue vaccination certificates to participants of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. Persons participating in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in EU Member States may be issued an EU Digital COVID Certificate (regardless of whether they received the COVID-19 vaccine candidate or the dose administered to the control group), and such certificates may be accepted in order to waive travel restrictions.

Moreover, EU Member States are able to issue test and recovery certificates on the basis of additional types of antigen tests. Apart from the rapid antigen tests covered already, these certificates may now also be issued based on laboratory-based antigen tests. To be eligible, antigen tests must be listed in the EU common list of COVID-19 antigen tests agreed by the Health Security Committee and carried out by health professionals or by skilled testing personnel.

Shall the extension of the EU Digital COVID Certificate be understood as requiring EU Member States to maintain or reintroduce free movement restrictions (in particular requirement to hold an EU Digital COVID Certificate)?

No. Any travel restrictions within the EU put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the requirement to present EU Digital COVID Certificates, should be lifted as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.

However, should a rise in infections make it necessary for EU Member States to reintroduce restrictions to free movement, the extension ensures that EU citizens can continue to benefit from the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

2. How does the EU Digital COVID Certificate facilitate travel in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic?

EU Member States should refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on the holders of an EU Digital COVID Certificate unless these are necessary and proportionate to safeguarding public health. In such cases, the EU Member State in question must inform the Commission and all other EU Member States as soon as it can, providing the reasons for such action.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate serves as proof of vaccination, testing and recovery, which can be used across EU Member States, and the EEA countries Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, as well as Switzerland. When travelling, the holder of the certificate will have the same rights as vaccinated/tested/recovered citizens of the country they are entering.

On 25 January 2022, the Council adopted a new Recommendation on a coordinated approach to free movement during the pandemic, moving from a “regions based” approach to a “persons based” approach.

EU Member States agreed that holders of a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate travelling within the EU should generally not be subject to additional restrictions, such as testing for infection or quarantine.

If you are not in possession of a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate, you could be required to undergo a test before or not later than 24 hours after arrival.

Where can I find information on the travel requirements for each EU Member State?

At Re-open EU you can find information collected by the Commission on the various measures in place in EU countries.

This information is updated frequently and available in 24 languages.

This should help you plan your travel in Europe, while staying safe and healthy.

How do you ensure non-vaccinated people are not discriminated against when exercising their right to travel in the EU?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate covers not just vaccination certificates, but also provides proof of negative tests and recovery from COVID-19. In this way, as many people as possible are able to benefit from the certificate when travelling.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate is designed to help people travel within the EU, but it is not a travel document, nor a pre-condition for travelling.

Unvaccinated people must be able to travel the same way as those who are vaccinated. They can be subject to limitations such as testing or quarantine/self-isolation, but these must be both necessary and proportionate.

3. Getting an EU Digital COVID Certificate (general)

Who issues the EU Digital COVID Certificate?

  • Vaccination certificates will be issued by the EU Member State where the vaccination was administered.
    A separate certificate should be issued after each dose, regardless of the EU Member State where the previous doses have been administered.
  • Test certificates will be issued by the EU Member State where the test took place.
  • Recovery certificates will be issued by the EU Member State where the recovered person is located.

All EU Member States should ensure that the certificates can be obtained easily and provide the necessary support to allow equal access by all people.

If you have problems getting an EU Digital COVID Certificate, you are encouraged to get in touch with the national authorities in your country of nationality/residence.

Who can receive an EU Digital COVID Certificate?

All EU citizens and their family members have a right to obtain an EU Digital COVID Certificate proving their vaccination, negative test for SARS-CoV-2 infection or recovery from COVID-19 following a positive test.

Non-EU nationals legally staying or resident in the EU Member States and who have the right to travel within the EU are also eligible to receive such a certificate.

I can’t get an EU Digital COVID Certificate because I don’t have a health insurance card, because I am not registered in the country, etc.

Eligibility for an EU Digital COVID Certificate cannot be subject to additional administrative requirements that are not laid down in the EU law on the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

In particular, for vaccination certificates, this EU law does not require the person concerned to be registered in the healthcare system of the country administering the vaccine, nor to provide the batch number of previous doses, before being issued the EU certificate.

If you have problems getting an EU Digital COVID Certificate, you are encouraged to get in touch with the national authorities in your country of nationality/residence.

The Commission will continue to work with EU governments to find constructive solutions to any issues encountered.

What if I can’t use the EU Digital COVID Certificate because the name on it doesn’t match the name on my identity documents?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate must include surname(s) and forename(s) of the holder, which should match the name stated in travel documents, such as identity cards or passports.

Issues have arisen in some EU Member States where the name mentioned in the travel document did not match the name indicated in the EU certificate. On 26 July 2021, a corrigendum related to the French version of the EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation was published to further clarify that certificates should include “nom(s) et prénom(s)” instead of “nom(s) de famille et prénom(s)”.

Where mistakes occur, you are encouraged to get in touch with your national authorities to have them corrected.

Can children get an EU Digital COVID Certificate?

Yes.

As regards vaccines, 3 EU-authorised vaccines can currently be used for children based on a positive scientific assessment by the European Medicines Agency:

  • the BioNTech Pfizer vaccine Comirnaty, for children aged 5-17
  • the Moderna vaccine Spikevax, for children aged 6-17
  • the Novavax vaccine Nuvaxovid, for children aged 12-17

The European Medicines Agency is also considering the use of the Moderna vaccine Spikevax for children aged 6 to 11.

Children can also receive a test or recovery certificate. These certificates can also be received by their parents and stored in the parents' smartphone app.

How much does an EU digital COVID certificate cost?

Nothing, they are free of charge.

Which COVID-19 tests can serve as a basis for issuing test and recovery certificates?

The following types of tests can serve as the basis for a test or recovery certificate, provided they have been carried out by health professionals or by skilled testing personnel:

  • NAAT tests (including RT-PCR tests);
  • antigen tests (including rapid antigen tests and laboratory-based antigen tests) listed in the EU common list.

In line with the Recommendation on a coordinated approach to free movement during the pandemic adopted by the all EU Member States, both types of test should be accepted for travel-related purposes.

How is the EU common list of antigen tests established?

In May 2021, the Health Security Committee set up a technical working group on COVID-19 diagnostic tests. This technical working group brings together experts from EU Member States and Norway as well as representatives from the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, the Joint Research Centre and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The aim of the technical working group is, in particular, to review the proposals put forward by EU Member States as well as manufacturers for COVID-19 antigen tests to be included in the EU common list of antigen tests. The technical working group assesses these proposals against the criteria established by the Council Recommendation 2021/C 24/01 as well as further criteria agreed by the experts on 21 September 2021. At first, the technical working group reviewed only the proposals for COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, but since July 2021 it also reviews proposals for COVID-19 laboratory-based antigen tests. These proposals are assessed against the same criteria as the rapid antigen tests (as agreed on 21 September 2021).

The EU common list includes CE-marked antigen tests that are in use and have been validated in at least one EU Member State. It only includes those antigen tests that are conducted by trained healthcare personnel or trained operators, but not COVID-19 antigen self-tests. If the experts of the technical working group deem it necessary to update the EU common list, a proposal is submitted to the Health Security Committee for agreement. The technical working group has thus put in place a structured, coherent and swift procedure for assessing the clinical performance of antigen tests that have been validated through independent evaluation studies, resulting in an update of the EU common list of at least once a month.

Click here for more information about the technical working group and the EU common list.

Why are self-tests not included?

Self-tests are not performed in controlled conditions and are therefore not sufficiently reliable.

4. Getting an EU Digital COVID Certificate (recovery)

Can I get a recovery certificate on the basis of an antibody test?

No.

According to the EU law on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, certificates of recovery (indicating that a person has recovered from COVID-19) can be issued only based on tests diagnosing whether a person is currently infected with COVID-19.

The current level of scientific knowledge does not allow for recovery certificates to be issued on the basis of antibody tests. In particular, the detection and quantification of antibodies cannot be used as a direct indication of protective immunity and there is no EU-wide benchmarking and comparison between different antibody tests.

Although a positive antibody test result can be a proof of a past infection, it cannot provide any indication of the time of infection. Therefore, it is impossible to determine the validity period of the recovery certificate.

Even if antibody tests provide some evidence of an immune response, it is not known if the antibodies offer sufficient protection or for how long. It may be that soon after a positive antibody test, the antibodies become undetectable.

It is also still unknown whether the antibodies detected by commercial tests currently in use would prevent infection with new SARS-CoV-2 variants. There are a huge number of antibody tests and comparing their results is extremely difficult.

If you have recovered but have not done a PCR test or an antigen test at the time of infection, you can still travel. If the destination country requires an EU Digital COVID Certificate to avoid quarantine or testing requirements on arrival, you can use either a vaccination certificate or a negative test certificate.

Can I get a recovery certificate after being diagnosed with an antigen test?

Yes.

On 22 February, the Commission adopted a delegated act allowing EU Member States to issue recovery certificates based on high-quality rapid antigen tests. In addition, with the extension of the EU law on Digital COVID Certificate also laboratory-based antigen tests can be used as a basis for issuing a recovery certificate.

To ensure the accuracy of the result, the antigen test used must be listed in the EU common list of COVID-19 antigen tests and be carried out by health professionals or by skilled testing personnel.

However, EU Member States are not obliged to issue recovery certificates based on antigen tests. For example, where they have sufficient testing capacity, EU Member States can continue issuing recovery certificates based on PCR tests only. In any case, EU Member States should ensure that citizens can obtain certificates of recovery (either by making sure there is access to PCR tests, or by issuing them on the basis of antigen tests).

5. Getting an EU Digital COVID Certificate (primary vaccination)

Which vaccines are accepted? What if I am vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine that has not yet been approved by the EU?

It does not make a difference whether the vaccine you receive has been approved at EU level or by an EU Member State – you should receive an EU Digital COVID Certificate for either, if you are eligible and have been vaccinated in the EU.

When you are travelling, EU Member States are obliged to accept vaccination certificates for vaccines that have been approved at EU level, currently those developed by:

Some EU Member States may decide to also waive travel restrictions for holders of certificates indicating other vaccines, such as those used on an emergency basis or included in the WHO emergency use list.

This table provides information regarding vaccines administered worldwide that are not authorised in the EU, indicating whether they are accepted in EU Member States to waive travel restrictions.

As a result, the acceptance of vaccines without EU marketing authorisation varies between countries – for a definitive answer, please check with the national authorities.

Can the EU Digital COVID Certificate be issued already after the first vaccination dose?

Yes.

Where EU Member State’s vaccination schedule requires 2 doses, your 1st vaccination certificate will be marked “1/2” and the 2nd will be marked “2/2”. Only the 2nd certificate will be accepted as proof of a full primary vaccination series.  

I have recovered from COVID-19 and my EU Member State has decided to offer only 1 dose of a 2-dose vaccine to me. Will I be able to get an EU Digital COVID Certificate?

It is for each EU Member State to decide whether to administer only 1 dose of a 2-dose vaccine to recovered persons (persons recovered before or after their 1st dose out of 2-dose vaccine).

If they do, the vaccination certificate should indicate that the vaccination course has been completed after the single dose. This is marked in the vaccination certificate as “1/1”.

Some EU Member States administer both doses of a 2-dose vaccine to recovered people. In this case, the certificates will be the same as for persons who have not contracted COVID-19.

The Council Recommendation on free movement during the pandemic states that the EU Digital COVID Certificates of people who have received a single dose of a 2-dose vaccine after having previously been infected with COVID-19 (in line with the vaccination strategy of the EU Member State of vaccination) should be accepted for travel.

Can I get an EU Digital COVID Certificate after having received my 1st vaccine dose in one EU Member State and the 2nd in another?

Vaccination certificates will be issued by the EU Member State where the vaccination is administered.

For 2-dose vaccines administered in 2 different EU Member States:

  • the 1st EU Member State must issue an EU Digital COVID Certificate indicating the 1st dose
  • the 2nd EU Member State must issue an EU Digital COVID Certificate indicating the 2nd dose (the certificate will be marked “2/2”).

To get the certificate for the 2nd dose, you will need to provide the authorities in the 2nd EU Member State with information on the 1st dose you received in the other EU Member State. Presenting your EU Digital COVID Certificate should be enough for this.

If there is a mistake in the certificate you have received, you should contact the national authorities who issued the incorrect certificate to have it corrected – under the EU law on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, you have the right to receive a new, corrected certificate.

The Commission is working continuously with EU governments to find constructive solutions to any issues encountered.

Can I get an EU Digital COVID Certificate if I have received 2 different vaccines?

Yes.

An EU Digital COVID Certificate should be issued to any person who received a COVID-19 vaccination.

The certificate should clearly indicate the name of the vaccine administered and the number of doses. Your 1st certificate will indicate the name of the 1st vaccine you received and the 2nd certificate will indicate the name of the 2nd vaccine (but not that of the 1st one).

Can I get an EU Digital COVID Certificate if I have participated in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial?

EU Member States may decide to issue EU Digital COVID Certificates to persons who participate in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, regardless whether the participant received the COVID-19 vaccine candidate or the dose administered to the control group (such as a placebo, or an already approved vaccine).

EU Member States may decide to accept such vaccination certificates, unless their acceptance period has expired or they have been revoked following the conclusion of the clinical trial.

The acceptance period of such vaccination certificates can differ, depending on whether the vaccine was administered as part of the primary vaccination series or as a booster.

6. Getting an EU Digital COVID Certificate for booster doses

I have recovered from COVID-19 after my set of primary vaccinations (either 1 or 2 doses), and my EU Member State has decided not to offer me a booster vaccination. Will I be able to benefit from the EU Digital COVID Certificate?

Some EU Member States might indeed advise not to get a booster immediately after recovering, but to first wait for a certain amount of time.

In most of these cases, this will mean that the person concerned can in the meantime use the EU Digital COVID Certificate proving their initial set of primary vaccinations, and/or their recovery certificate, until the time they receive a booster.

Can I get an EU Digital COVID Certificate if I had my set of primary vaccinations (1 or 2 doses) in one EU Member State and my booster dose in another EU Member State?

Yes. You should receive your EU Digital COVID Certificate from the EU Member State where you have been vaccinated.

It must state “the number of doses administered to the holder” – not just the number of doses administered in that EU Member State.

Given that a certificate is to be issued after the administration of each dose, you should typically be in the possession of an EU Digital COVID Certificate that constitutes reliable proof you have received the previous doses.

If a mistake happens, you should contact the national authorities who issued the incorrect certificate, to have it corrected. Under the EU law on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, you have the right to receive a new, corrected certificate.

If you have problems getting an EU Digital COVID Certificate, you should contact the authorities in your country of nationality/residence.

The Commission is working continuously with EU governments to find constructive solutions to any issues encountered.

What if I receive a booster of an EU-approved vaccine, after having received a vaccine that has not yet been approved by the EU?

If you receive an EU-approved COVID-19 vaccine as a booster – regardless of what kind of vaccine you have received previously – your certificate must be accepted for travel by all EU Member States.

Is there a “waiting period” of 14 days before my booster dose will be accepted?

No – EU Digital COVID Certificates issued for booster doses are recognised immediately, without a 14-day waiting period.

This is stated in the Council Recommendation on free movement during the pandemic.

Why do some booster certificates indicate “3/3”, while others indicate “2/1”?

On 21 December 2021, the Commission adapted the rules for registering vaccinations in the certificates.

This was necessary to ensure that vaccination certificates showing completion of the primary vaccination series can be distinguished from certificates issued following a booster dose.

As of 1 February 2022, booster doses are indicated in the EU Digital COVID Certificate as follows:

  • 3/3 for a booster following a primary 2-dose vaccination series
  • 2/1 for a booster following a single-dose vaccination or 1 dose of a 2-dose vaccine administered to a recovered person (if that is the approach used by the vaccinating EU Member State)

7. Getting an EU Digital COVID Certificate when vaccinated outside the EU

Can I get a vaccination certificate if my vaccination took place outside the EU?

There are 2 solutions for this.

  1.  “Exchange of certificates”

This applies only to:

  • EU citizens and their family members
  • non-EU nationals who are long-term residents or legally staying visitors in the EU.

If you are vaccinated in a non-EU country with a vaccine that is used in the EU, you can receive an EU Digital COVID Certificate if you contact the authorities in your EU Member State of nationality or residence and provide reliable proof of the vaccination.

EU Member States are not obliged to offer this possibility, so we advise you to check with the authorities in your EU Member State if and how this exchange is possible.

  1. “Equivalence decision”

COVID-19 certificates from some non-EU countries and territories are recognised in the EU. Certificates issued by these countries must be directly recognised in the EU under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificates.

This is because the Commission has adopted an “equivalence decision” for certificates issued in that country.

Which countries outside the EU issue COVID-19 certificates regarded as equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificates?

The Commission has published a list of non-EU countries and territories connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate system.

The COVID-19 certificates these countries issue are accepted in the EU under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

At the same time, these countries have agreed to accept the EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Is the EU Digital COVID Certificate also valid when travelling outside of the EU?

The purpose of the EU Digital COVID Certificate is make it easier to travel within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commission has adopted multiple equivalence decisions establishing that COVID-19 certificates of certain countries outside of the EU should be accepted in the EU under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate. At the same time, these countries have agreed to also accept the EU Digital COVID Certificates for travel to their countries.

If you are travelling to a country outside the EU, we advise you to verify the precise travel and entry conditions put in place by that country.

I have been vaccinated in a non-EU country with a COVID-19 vaccine authorised in that country. Will my certificate be valid in the EU?

For the 2 following groups of people, the same rules apply as to people vaccinated in the EU:

  • people vaccinated in a non-EU country who have received an EU Digital COVID Certificate via the “exchange of certificates” (see above); 
  • people who have received a non-EU certificate deemed equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

As a minimum, EU Member States are obliged to accept certificates for vaccines that have received EU marketing authorisation. They may also decide to accept certificates indicating other vaccines.

The Commission and EU governments are continuously examining non-EU vaccines to determine whether they correspond to EU-authorised vaccines. 

This table provides information regarding vaccines administered worldwide that are not authorised in the EU, indicating whether they are accepted in EU Member States to waive travel restrictions provided they are indicated in an EU Digital COVID Certificate or a non-EU certificate whose equivalence has been established. The list also includes vaccines sublicensed by AstraZeneca to other companies, which several EU Member States would accept as valid.

What if I have been vaccinated in a non-EU country, and get a booster in the EU?

If you receive a booster in an EU Member State after having previously been vaccinated in a non-EU country, the EU Member State may issue a vaccination certificate to you if you can provide all the required information that reliably proves your primary vaccination (1 or 2 doses) outside the EU.

A non-EU COVID-19 vaccine certificate that has been recognised as equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate should constitute sufficient proof in this context.

8. Validity of EU Digital COVID Certificates

Is there a minimum or maximum validity for the certificates?

For the purpose of travel within the EU, your vaccination certificate will be valid for 9 months (precisely 270 days) after you complete your primary vaccination (1 or 2 doses).

This acceptance period is limited to persons aged 18 and above. For persons below that age, from 6 April 2022, a vaccination certificate issued for the completion of primary vaccination does not have a maximum validity.

This clear and uniform acceptance period for vaccination certificates – binding on all EU Member States – guarantees that travel measures continue to be coordinated and provides clarity for EU citizens in how to exercise their right to travel freely in the EU.

Certificates issued for a booster dose do not have a maximum validity. However, the Commission is monitoring whether adaptations are needed on the basis of newly emerging scientific evidence.

Recovery certificates expire at the latest 180 days after the positive test result.

Test certificates do not state an expiry date. EU Member States may establish their own rules on this. They have agreed, in the Council Recommendation on free movement during the pandemic, that:

  • PCR/NAAT test results should be accepted if obtained not more than 72 hours before arrival.
  • For antigen tests this is not more than 24 hours before arrival.

However, this Recommendation is non-binding. The final decision on the validity of the certificate is up to the EU Member States.

Why did the European Commission introduce a maximum validity for vaccination certificates?

The original EU law on the EU Digital COVID Certificate did not include a validity period for vaccination certificates. At the time the Certificate was adopted, there was not enough scientific evidence to support this.

To avoid diverging approaches among EU Member States on the validity of vaccination certificates and in response to scientific evidence that protection wanes over time, the Commission adopted a binding standard acceptance period of 270 days (around 9 months) for vaccination certificates that show the holder has completed their primary vaccination (1 or 2 doses), for the purpose of travel within the EU.

What about the validity of vaccination certificates of persons below 18? Should they not get boosters?

For the purpose of travel within the EU, vaccination certificates are valid for 9 months (precisely 270 days) after completing the primary vaccination (1 or 2 doses).

However, from 6 April 2022, this rule does not count for persons below 18. Their vaccination certificates issued for the completion of primary vaccination do not have a maximum validity. When travelling, persons below 18 can continue using the certificate received after the primary series of vaccination.

It is up to EU Member States to decide on whether and when to offer booster doses to this age group.

Why are there still different validity periods for vaccination certificates within the EU?

The EU law on the EU Digital COVID Certificate aims to facilitate travel within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, decisions on the validity of COVID-19 certificates for domestic use, such as access to restaurants, are not covered by EU law. These are national public health decisions, based on each country’s national epidemiological and social situation.

As a result, the binding validity period established at EU level can only cover the use of the certificates for the purpose of travel.

As regards the domestic use of vaccination certificates, the Commission encourages EU Member States to align their rules with the 270-day period for travel to reduce divergence and confusion for travellers.

How does this acceptance period work in practice?

The standard validity period is applied when your certificate is verified. This means that the verifier apps will reject your certificate if it indicates that over 270 days have passed since the last dose in your primary vaccination series.

For example, if you received the 2nd dose of a 2-dose vaccine on 15 November 2021, the certificate you received for that 2nd dose will stop being accepted as of 12 August 2022.

Booster doses are indicated in the EU Digital COVID Certificate as follows:

  • 3/3 for a booster following a primary 2-dose vaccination series
  • 2/1 for a booster following a single-dose vaccination or 1-dose of a 2-dose vaccine administered to a recovered person (if that is the policy of the EU Member State issuing the certificate)

What if I get my booster more than 270 days after completing my primary vaccination series? Do I lose my EU Digital COVID Certificate?

Your certificate indicating you have completed the primary vaccination series will no longer be valid for travel after 270 days have passed.

However, when you receive a booster after those 270 days, this will still be indicated as such in your new EU Digital COVID Certificate. Your new certificate will be valid immediately and will have no validity period for travel.

9. Using the EU Digital COVID Certificate for travel

How does the EU Digital COVID Certificate work across the EU?

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 operates a central 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.

Do EU Member States have to accept anyone travelling with a PCR/antigen test?

In principle, EU Member States have agreed to accept both PCR and antigen tests. However, this is a political agreement, and not legally binding. Therefore, please check the website of the EU Member State you are travelling to, to see if and under which conditions it accepts different types of tests.

Why am I still sometimes required to take COVID-19 tests or undergo quarantine despite being vaccinated (or having recovered) and holding an EU Digital COVID Certificate?

Where EU Member States waive certain restrictions on travel for people who have proof of vaccination, test or recovery, the EU Digital COVID Certificate will allow you to benefit from these exemptions.

In principle, EU Member States should refrain from imposing additional restrictions on EU Digital COVID Certificate holders, unless such restrictions are non-discriminatory, necessary and proportionate for the purpose of safeguarding public health and in line with the precautionary principle.

In addition, the Council Recommendation on free movement during the pandemic states that travellers in the EU who hold a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate should not be subject to additional restrictions, such as further tests, save for exceptional situations.

However, under special ‘emergency brake’ arrangements, if there is an emergency caused by a new SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern or interest, EU Member States can impose restrictions on you (quarantine/self-isolation, a test, etc.), even if you hold an EU Digital COVID Certificate.

The Commission is in continuous contact with the EU Member States to help them coordinate their national travel measures with EU law, and ensure that any additional travel restrictions are in line with the EU law principles of proportionality and non-discrimination.

Where can I find information about travel restrictions?

Information is available at Re-open EU.

What if I have problems with an airline, despite being vaccinated and showing my EU Digital COVID Certificate?

Generally under EU law on air passenger rights, if you present yourself in time for check-in but are denied boarding against your will, you are entitled to compensation, reimbursement or re-routing and assistance.

But airlines are not obliged to provide these compensatory measures if they refuse to let you board on reasonable grounds related to health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation.

You will find more information on your air passenger rights, as well as on how to claim these rights, on the Your Europe website.

What if I have problems when flying, for example due to a lack of clarity on how the EU Digital COVID Certificate is verified and by who, or a duplication of checks?

The decision on whether and how to verify the EU Digital COVID Certificate lies with the EU Member States.

However, to optimise this process, the Commission has published guidelines and recommendations for EU Member States.

For example, these encourage EU Member States to verify the certificates only once and preferably only during the online check-in for the airline, prior to departure, to avoid crowding and queues at airports.

10. Protection of personal data

How is my personal data protected?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate is designed to offer a very high level of data protection.

  • It uses a decentralised system, which does not require a central EU database containing personal data on all certificates issued, or any exchange of personal data among authorities.
  • The data accessed for verifications must not be kept by the verifier following the check (e.g. when boarding a flight).
  • The issuer (e.g. vaccination centre) may keep data for no longer than is necessary for its purpose and in no circumstances longer than the period for which the certificates may be used to exercise the right to travel.
  • The system only requires a limited amount of personal data. For example, the list of data categories is shorter than what is in the WHO’s “yellow booklet” (used in some EU Member States to document vaccinations).
  • The guidelines on technical specifications require that the verifier interface show the result of the verification in such a way that only the minimum required information is displayed:

    – for successful verifications, the information should be limited to the indication that the certificate has been verified successfully, with minimum personal details necessary to link the certificate to the holder.

    – for failed verifications, the interface should only display the reason for the failure, including details that prevent the successful verification.

11. Interoperability – inside and outside the EU

Is the EU Digital COVID Certificate compatible with other systems developed at international level?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate specifications are open and freely available. The Commission cooperates with international organisations and fora worldwide, such as the WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ensure regular exchanges on interoperability of specifications in digital technologies for documenting vaccination status.

The EU law on the EU Digital COVID Certificate allows the Commission to issue decisions recognising certificates issued by non-EU countries to EU citizens and their family members, where such certificates meet standards and specifications of the EU Digital COVID Certificate, and are interoperable with the EU trust framework.

See this list of non-EU countries already connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate system.

12. Non-EU nationals travelling to the EU

Can the EU Digital COVID Certificate facilitate travel to the EU from non-EU countries?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate provides a benchmark for assessing the validity of non-EU vaccination certificates.

If the Commission is satisfied that a non-EU country issues certificates in compliance with standards and systems that are interoperable with the EU system, the Commission can adopt a decision that this country’s certificates will be accepted under the same conditions as EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Generally, Council Recommendation 2020/912 aims to ease the current restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU, taking into account the progress of vaccination campaigns and developments in the epidemiological situation worldwide. The EU Digital COVID Certificate, or its equivalent certificates issued by third countries, can be used as a proof of vaccination or testing and as the sole proof of recovery in order to undertake non-essential travel to the EU.

13. National use of COVID-19 certificates

Can I be obliged to hold a COVID-19 certificate to attend events or access certain locations, e.g. cinema, workplace, etc.?

The EU law on the EU Digital COVID Certificate covers only the use of the certificate for travel within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether EU Digital COVID Certificates are used for domestic purposes, such as for access to restaurants, cultural events, the workplace, etc. is a decision for EU Member States to take at national level. EU law neither prescribes nor prohibits such uses of EU Digital COVID Certificate.

It is up to EU Member States to determine which health protection measures they consider most appropriate in such contexts. If an EU Member State uses the EU Digital COVID Certificate for such purposes, they must provide a legal basis for it in their national law. This must comply with data protection and other requirements. Whether or not such health protection measures are legal is for national courts to decide.

If an EU Member State establishes a national system of COVID-19 certificates for entry to events and locations, it should ensure that the EU Digital COVID Certificates can also be used for this. This ensures that travellers going to another EU Member State do not have to get an additional COVID-19 certificate for that country, to access hotels, restaurants, etc., but can use their EU Digital COVID Certificate.

If you have questions or particular views about the use of the EU Digital COVID Certificates for these other purposes, you could consider contacting the national authorities in your EU Member State of nationality/residence or your elected representative at national or regional level.

Can there be different rules on accepting a COVID-19 certificate for domestic purposes, compared with accepting the EU Digital COVID Certificate for travel?

While conditions of acceptance of EU Digital COVID Certificates for travel are regulated on the EU level under the EU law on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, the conditions of acceptance for domestic purposes are not covered by such EU law. They are up to EU Member States to decide.

For the domestic purposes, EU Member States can decide, for example, only to accept certain types of EU Digital COVID Certificates, or to use shorter acceptance periods than agreed at EU level for the purposes of travel.

Is it the Commission or EU Member States that can decide to impose vaccination, in particular for some specific professional groups such as healthcare workers?

Responsibility for legislating on vaccination, including whether this should be mandatory or not, lies with the EU Member States.

This comes under their specific responsibility for vaccination policies, programmes (based on their national epidemiological and social situation), which is in turn part of their general responsibility for defining health policy and organising and delivering health services and medical care.

If you have any queries about national policies in this regard, you could consider contacting the responsible national authorities.

In this context, please note that Resolution 2361/2021 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe ‘Covid-19 vaccines: ethical, legal and practical considerations’ is not part of EU law (the Council of Europe is not an EU institution).

How are fundamental rights respected when it comes to the domestic use of COVID-19 certificates?

Under the Treaties on which the EU is based, the European Commission has no general powers to intervene with the EU Member States in the area of fundamental rights. It can only do so if an issue of EU law is involved.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights does not apply to every situation of an alleged violation of fundamental rights. According to its Article 51(1), the Charter applies to EU Member States only when they are implementing EU law.

Since the use of COVID-19 certificates for domestic purposes falls exclusively within the responsibility of the EU Member States, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights does not apply.

See more on the Charter and when it applies.

It is for EU Member States to ensure that fundamental rights are effectively respected and protected in accordance with their national law and international human rights obligations.

What is Council Recommendation (EU) 2022/107 on the coordination of travel restrictions about?

To limit the spread of COVID-19, EU Member States adopted various measures, some of which have had an impact on citizens' right to travel freely around the EU, such as requirements to undergo quarantine or testing.

While the measures are intended to safeguard the health and wellbeing of citizens, they have serious consequences for the economy and citizens' rights.

Therefore, we need a well-coordinated, predictable and transparent approach. This is also important for the millions of citizens who rely on cross-border travel every day.

For this purpose, EU Member States adopted, in October 2020, a Council Recommendation on coordinating travel restrictions in the EU.

The Recommendation established a uniform approach on the following key points:

  • using shared criteria when deciding whether to introduce restrictions to free movement;
  • mapping the risk of COVID-19 transmission, published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), based on an agreed colour code;
  • a coordinated approach regarding the measures, if any, which could be applied to people travelling between different areas.

This Recommendation has been updated multiple times since then. On 25 January 2022, it was replaced by Council Recommendation 2022/107, which introduced a person-based approach.

What are the main changes introduced by the latest update of the Council Recommendation?

  • ‘Person-based approach' – a person with 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.
    The Recommendation sets out what “valid” means, for example referring to the binding acceptance period of 270 days for primary vaccination.
  • The EU traffic light map is adapted – combining new cases with a region's vaccine uptake. The map now mainly serves for information purposes, but also serves to coordinate measures for areas with a particularly high incidence (‘dark red') of the virus.
  • Exemptions from certain travel measures apply for cross-border commuters, children under 12 and essential travellers.
  • A simplified ‘emergency brake' procedure includes an EU Member State notification to the Commission and the Council and a roundtable under the Council's Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) mechanism.

Where can I find information about travel requirements for each country?

At Re-open EU you can find information collected by the Commission on the various measures in place in EU countries.

This information is updated frequently and available in 24 languages.

This should help you plan your travel in Europe.

What is an ‘emergency brake' and when can it be used?

The ‘emergency brake' procedure is intended to allow for a coordinated response:

  • to the emergence of new coronavirus variants assessed as ‘of concern' or ‘of interest';
  • when the epidemiological situation worsens quickly, in particular in areas already classified as ‘dark red'.

This procedure can be triggered either by an EU Member State or the Commission.

It would result in a roundtable of the Council's integrated political crisis response mechanism being called, where the EU Member State or the Commission outline why the procedure was triggered.

The roundtable could conclude that certain coordinated measures should be taken by EU Member States, in particular to delay the spread of a new variant.

Which countries does the Recommendation apply to?

The Recommendation applies to all EU Member States, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Can EU Member States refuse entry to people travelling from another EU Member State?

EU Member States should always admit their own nationals and EU citizens/their family members who are resident in their territory.

In addition, EU Member States should in principle not refuse entry to other people travelling from other EU Member States, and should facilitate swift transit through their territories.

These conditions apply even if you do not have the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Any restrictions to these fundamental rights must be applied in compliance with the general principles of EU law, in particular proportionality and non-discrimination.

Any measures taken should not extend beyond what is strictly necessary to safeguard public health. Only very exceptional situations, such as the emergency of a new variant of concern, could justify denying entry to EU citizens who are not resident in the EU Member State concerned.

What happens if I do not have the EU Digital COVID Certificate (yet) or it is not valid anymore?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation states that holding an EU Digital COVID Certificate cannot be a precondition for travelling.

The Council Recommendation on free movement during the pandemic states that people who do not have an EU Digital COVID Certificate should not be prevented from travelling.

However, they could be required to undergo a test for COVID-19 infection before or after arrival, to reduce the risk of imported infections. They might also be required to undergo quarantine/self-isolation if they are arriving from particularly affected areas (dark red).

Does the Recommendation allow for exemptions for essential travellers or other groups particularly affected by travel restrictions?

Some categories of travellers should not be required to have an EU Digital COVID Certificate to be exempted from travel restrictions:

  • transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers and crew of freight vehicles;
  • patients travelling for imperative medical reasons;
  • seafarers;
  • people living in border regions and travelling across the border on a daily or frequent basis for the purposes of work, business, education, family, medical care or caregiving;
  • children under the age of 12 years.

In addition, transport workers and transport service providers should also not be required to have a test or undergo quarantine when travelling from ‘dark red’ areas, given the impact this would have on the single market.

Even if the emergency brake is triggered, transport workers and transport service providers should only be required to undergo rapid antigen tests, if needed.

Are there any specific rules for children travelling within the EU?

The Council Recommendation on free movement during the pandemic states that

  • children under 12 should not be required to have an EU Digital COVID Certificate or a negative test when travelling from areas other than ‘dark red’ ones;
  • children from 6 to 12 arriving from ‘dark red’ areas should have an EU Digital COVID Certificate or a negative test;
  • children under 6 arriving from ‘dark red’ areas should not have to undergo travel-related quarantine/self-isolation or travel-related tests for COVID-19 infection.

I live in a border region and I have to cross the border frequently as part of my daily life. How is this taken into account?

EU Member States have agreed that people living in border regions and travelling across the border on a daily or frequent basis for the purposes of work, business, education, family, medical care or caregiving should not be required to have a valid EU Digital COVID Certificate to be exempted from travel restrictions.