What you need to know: EU Digital COVID Certificate

With the new EU Digital COVID Certificate, EU citizens and residents may travel with a little more ease and freedom within the EU during the pandemic.

On July 1, the European Union officially launched an EU Digital COVID Certificate to help EU citizens and residents travel safely and freely within the EU during the pandemic. The Certificate provides digital evidence that a person has either:

  • Been fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Received a negative test result
  • Recovered from COVID-19

Available in digital or paper format, the EU Digital COVID Certificate may be issued to all EU citizens and their family members, and to non-EU nationals legally living in a Member State and who have the right to travel to other Member States. The non-EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, may also participate. Regulations support the use of the new certificates for 12 months, until June 30, 2022.

How it works

EU citizens and residents should carry a digital or paper certificate when traveling within the EU. At border crossings, authorities will scan the certificate’s QR code for verification and authentication. Each issuing organization is assigned a digital signature key, and these are stored in a secure database in each country. Certificate signatures can be verified across the EU by using a gateway created by the European Commission. The certificate holder’s personal data is not shared during this process.

National authorities should issue the certificates to their citizens and residents, including foreign nationals. The certificates will share a common design across all EU Member States. They may be issued by health authorities, through eHealth portals or by testing centers. For example, an individual may automatically be issued with an EU Digital COVID Certificate when they are vaccinated. Vaccination certificates are issued regardless of the type of vaccination received. It is up to individual Member States to decide whether a vaccination certificate is accepted after one dose or after full vaccination. EU citizens who were vaccinated before the Certificate was implemented should make a retroactive request to get one.

EU Digital COVID Certificate key features

  • Valid in all EU countries
  • Available in paper or digital format
  • Written in English and national language
  • Uses a QR code with digital signature for information-sharing and certificate authentication

Helping free movement

So that travel restrictions may be lifted in a coordinated manner, all EU Member States must accept the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Certificate holders will be exempt from any restrictions on free movement, although countries may retain some restrictions if justified to safeguard public health. For example, this may be necessary to combat the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant. In such an instance, the Member State must notify the European Commission and all other Member States.

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