Everything you need to know about Europe’s vaccine passports

Jun 2, 2021

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As the world reopens, the COVID-19 vaccine will be a new entry requirement for some destinations and travel providers.  

Many destinations will accept proof of vaccination to allow some travelers to skip COVID-19 tests and lengthy quarantines. This proof, in some countries, may come in the form of a vaccine passport.

In mid-May, the European Union confirmed it would reopen to fully vaccinated travelers this summer — including Americans. And seven EU member states (Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland) issued the first EU Digital COVID Certificates on June 1. Non-EU member states, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, will also use the Green Certificate — but not the United Kingdom.

If you’re traveling to Europe this summer, here’s what you need to know about current vaccine passport plans and requirements.

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Digital International Certificate of COVID-19 Vaccination. The certificate indicates that the holder has been vaccinated against COVID-19 (Image by courtneyk/Getty Images)

What to know about the EU vaccine passport

Under the vaccine passport scheme, each EU Member State would adopt the same entry requirements for visitors. The Digital COVID Certificate will show that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus. Fully vaccinated travelers would be allowed entry to each EU country without the need for a further COVID-19 test result or quarantine on arrival.

Do I have to download an app?

The certificate, formerly called the Digital Green Certificate, will be available for free in digital (with QR code) or paper format.

Other vaccine passports in Europe

Denmark

Denmark launched a vaccine passport for its citizens called Coronapas. The pass, which is available through an app or by paper, can be used to show that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19. According to the Coronapas website,  travelers can see their pass once a lab has analyzed their COVID-19 test. Travelers can only see their passports if their test result is negative and is not older than seven days.

Estonia

The Estonian government announced on April 30 a vaccine passport called VaccineGuard. It is expected to comply with the European Union’s certificate and allow Estonians to cross borders with proof of vaccination status.

France

France will allow travelers from the U.S. starting June 9. According to The Local Europe, people vaccinated in France will receive a certificate with a QR code that can be used to go to events in France and for EU border crossings, starting on June 9. The code can be used for international travel beginning July 1. It’s unclear, right now, how American travelers will prove their vaccination status to enter France.

Iceland

Iceland rolled out digital vaccination certificates to its citizens earlier this year. 

It looks like the certificate is only available to Icelanders, but the country is open to certain travelers. Eligible travelers include those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who can prove they’ve already recovered from the virus. You’ll need proof of vaccination or prior infection to show the border agent upon arrival in Iceland and when checking into your hotel. Having these documents also lets you skip the mandatory testing and quarantine imposed on other travelers.

At this time, Iceland recognizes several vaccines, including the three approved for emergency use in the U.S., for entry. You must bring your CDC-issued vaccination card with you to the border. Your card must have the following information:

  • First name and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Name of the vaccinated disease (COVID-19)
  • Where and when the vaccinations took place
  • List of the number of doses required to complete
  • Information on the issuer of the certificate
  • Name of the vaccine
  • Manufacturer of vaccine and batch number
  • Written in Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, English or French

Ireland

According to Reuters, Ireland will roll out a vaccine passport that would allow its citizens to travel more seamlessly throughout the EU starting July 19. Prime Minister Micheál Martin said that Ireland would “broadly apply the same approach” to international travelers, including Americans.

Greece

Greece is welcoming tourists back again, which includes American and British travelers. Tourists looking to visit Greece must meet the entry requirements, including being fully vaccinated or having a negative COVID-19 PCR test result. Greece said previously that fully vaccinated travelers from Great Britain would only need their handwritten paper NHS card as proof of vaccination.

What about travel to the United Kingdom?

According to a report from The Telegraph, the United Kingdom’s plans to roll out a vaccine passport may be in limbo. The vaccine passport was reportedly supposed to be used to gain entry into large events like concerts or sporting events. However, this report has not been independently confirmed by TPG. U.K. residents already have access to the NHS app; a digital vaccine passport only applies to travelers in England. 

Featured photo by Uskarp/Shutterstock

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