EU unveils Digital Green Certificates proposal for return to summer travel

Mar 17, 2021

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On Wednesday, the European Commission (EC) presented a legal proposition on a version of vaccine passports for Europe. Called the Digital Green Certificate, it has been designed to provide proof for a person that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, have received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.

The Digital Green Certificate (DGC), which will be available for free in digital (with QR code) or paper format, will allow citizens of EU Member States to be able to move freely around their own country, as well as travel abroad to other countries within the EU. The EC has also outlined that this will also include non-EU Member States such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland but not the United Kingdom.

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“The Digital Green Certificate offers an EU-wide solution to ensure that EU citizens benefit from a harmonized digital tool to support free movement in the EU,” said VP for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová. “This is a good message in support of recovery. Our key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection.”

The rollout will mean quarantining and other travel-related restrictions would effectively disappear. Where countries wish to waive arrival regulations such as testing or quarantine, they will be required to accept those issued by the Digital Green Certificate.

Related: Country-by-country guide to where you can go if you’re vaccinated

The EC is hoping to find a way to make the Digital Green Certificates — or a version of them — recognized around the world. This could mean the inclusion of Americans in the not-too-distant future. The EC said that the DGCs will be in effect until the World Health Organization declares the end of the COVID-19 international health emergency.

“And we continue working towards international convergence with other partners,” Jourová said.

Related: You finally got vaccinated: Here’s what you’ll need for a digital health passport

The next step will require that each of the Member States get ready for the rollout of the certificates, which will include issuance and verification. The EC will help Member States to develop the required software that authorities across the EU will be able to use to verify certificate signatures.

By summer, the EU plans to have a digital infrastructure in place that would be ready to facilitate travel between Member States using the so-called Digital Green Passports.

All that will be left to do at that stage is for each Member State to make changes in their national healthcare systems to bring them in line with the DGCs.

Some countries have already made clear that they intend to open to tourists who have been vaccinated, including Americans.

Related: Americans can now visit 90+ countries and territories — here’s the complete list

For more information on digital health passports, check out our guide for everything you need to know.

Featured photo by Santiago Urquijo/Getty Images.




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