EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate

Liliana Martinez, Security Manager, London

 

Free movement in the age of COVID – The EU’s solution

 

Ways to address the issue of increasingly varied COVID-19 travel restrictions in the European continent have been in focus for months; however, a proposed solution will be launched on 1 July, with the rollout of the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC). EU member states have negotiated and agreed upon an overarching technical framework that would allow their citizens and residents to travel relatively freely within the EU, in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, using a secure system to display their negative COVID test results, proof of vaccination or proof of recovery from the disease, either digitally as a QR code or on paper. 

 

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While the system will only apply to EU citizens and residents for now, it could potentially be integrated into other such 'COVID passport’ schemes being rolled out around the globe in the coming year. For example, the United Kingdom is currently in talks with the EU to link its National Health Service’s (NHS) COVID app with the EU’s framework, though no confirmation of or date for this integration has been set.  

 

National authorities of EU members states will provide details on how citizens and residents of their country can obtain their own Digital Certificate. This is most likely to be sent automatically following an individual’s vaccination or COVID-19 test, but also available upon request on or after 1 July, depending on the country.

 

As of 30 June, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Norway and Iceland had begun to distribute the EUDCC to their populations, initially accepting one or all segments of the scheme (proof of vaccination, testing or recovery) already. The rest of the EU, as well as Switzerland, will follow on 1 July.  

 

Although the intention of this new system is to simplify travel throughout Europe this summer, the bloc has not been able to agree on all requirements and will leave some decisions up to individual states. For instance, all nations involved in the scheme must accept proof that a traveller has received an EU-approved vaccine: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or Oxford/AstraZeneca. 

 

However, individual EU countries could also choose to accept other vaccines, especially those they have already given to their own populations. Slovakia, for example, has authorised Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to be administered to its citizens, so it is likely to accept entry into the country for those who have received the Sputnik vaccine. Nonetheless, countries such as Germany and France, which are only using EU-approved vaccines on their populations, are unlikely to accept those seeking to enter who have been vaccinated by non-EU approved vaccines such as Sputnik, Sinopharm or Sinovac.   

 

Similarly, the standard for testing will continue to be a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, though some countries may also accept antigen tests taken within 48 hours of arrival, if this is something that they already have in place for their own citizens and residents. Spain, for example, announced on 7 June that it would allow vaccinated travellers to show either a PCR or antigen test to arrive in the country. Regardless of which test or vaccine is accepted, countries are not allowed to impose additional restrictions, such as quarantine, on incoming EU travellers as part of the scheme. However, quarantine or additional testing requirements could still apply to travellers who are not eligible for the EUDCC. These restrictions are unlikely to change in the coming weeks. 

 

Our advice: While this system will add greater ease to travel within the EU, managers and individual travellers should continue to stay apprised of the latest travel restriction requirements ahead of planning and embarking on journeys. For more information on the EUDCC, the EU has published a comprehensive FAQ document available here. International SOS subscribers can also consult International SOS’s Pandemic Portal or Assistance App for the latest details on COVID-19 country entry and exit requirements, as well as our alerts and weekly forecasts, or reach out to their nearest Regional Security Centre for additional itinerary or profile-specific information. 

 

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