In a recent development, the UK’s NHS COVID Pass is accepted as equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate. This means that if you are from the United Kingdom and you have the NHS COVID Pass, you can use your certificate to travel around the European Union, while avoiding the entry restrictions facing non-holders looking to travel from the EU. If you have already received your pass domestically in the UK (or if you are considering applying for one), you may be wondering, “how does the certificate work when used for travel around the EU?” Today’s blog will discuss the NHS COVID Pass as an EU Digital Covid Certificate equivalent, with a focus on key features of the certificate.

NHS COVID Pass

  • The NHS COVID pass, like the EU digital certificate, shows that its holder has either been vaccinated against COVID-19 or has recently tested negative for it (unlike the EU certificate, it does not show if you have previously had COVID). 
  • The NHS COVID Pass is accessible through the NHS app or NHS (National Health Service) website. When you receive your vaccine (or test results) those results are digitally saved, and can be electronically transferred to you and displayed on an authorized app. 
  • The UK’s NHS COVID Pass is accepted as equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate following an agreement with the European Commission. When you enter the EU from the UK (or from anywhere outside the zone) you can present your NHS certificate at the airport (when requested by relevant security/border personnel) in order to board your flight.  
  • If you do not have the NHS COVID pass, you can still travel to the EU from the UK, but you will likely be subject to COVID-19 testing and quarantine rules. For example, if you have the NHS COVID Pass, you will not have to take a pre-flight COVID-19 test in order to enter the EU (you can simply show your card as proof you are vaccinated). However, if you don’t have the NHS COVID Pass, you will likely need to take a COVID-19 test in order to fly into the zone.  

Background

This summer, the European Union released a Digital Covid Certificate for citizens and residents of the zone. By presenting the pass (which serves as electronic proof that its bearer is vaccinated or has another form of immunity), holders can avoid the COVID-19 testing and quarantine rules and other travel restrictions non-holders often face across the EU. In addition to using the card to travel from the EU around Europe, a Digital COVID certificate holder can also present the pass domestically to gain access to the numerous restaurants, bars, museums, and other public venues that make vaccination status a prerequisite to entry. At the moment, the EU Digital COVID certificate is only available to citizens and residents of the zone. However, certain non-EU countries have an agreement with the European Commission, which accepts the national vaccine certificates of those respective countries as legitimate. The United Kingdom is one of the countries whose NHS COVID Pass is considered an EU Digital Covid Certificate equivalent. 

How does the certificate work?

  • The EU Digital Certificate serves as electronic proof of your vaccination status. It is digital in form (although paper options are available) and comes with a QR code, which links to the hospital/clinic where you received the vaccine (therefore allowing it to be verified). Most holders choose to keep a digital record of the certificate on their phone, in an app, which they can open and scan whenever and wherever it is requested.  
  • The EU Digital certificate shows that its holder has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, is recovered from the disease (and therefore has natural immunity) or has recently tested negative for it. For example, if you have received the vaccine, the key  features of the certificate will be your name, birthday, vaccine brand, and injection date. 
  • Please note that a would-be Digital COVID Certificate holder must have received a vaccine recognized by the EU in order to be eligible for the certificate.   
  • Each EU country offers country-specific access to the EU Digital Certificate, often through an app. All national certificates are accepted throughout the EU. 

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