Now that Americans can go to Europe, here’s what we know about the EU’s “vaccine passports”

Jun 7, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


Europe is reopening to tourism: Seven European Union countries have unveiled and are already using EU Digital COVID Certificates (formerly called “green passports“).

The New York Times reporting seven countries are already using these passports. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland made the certificates available to their citizens as of June 7. They are reportedly already being used for travel. All 27 member nations of the EU should have the vaccine passports available as of July 1, 2021. The European Commission is in talks with the United States about allowing Americans to also have access to the EU Digital COVID Certificate, but details on that have not been finalized.

Read on for new details on what we know so far.

In This Post

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

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The news on digital COVID-19 certificates

Also called “Digital Green Certificates (DGC),” they are designed to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19, that the user has received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.

Related: Country-by-country guide to Europe reopening

The DGC will allow citizens of EU countries free movement around their own country, as well as travel abroad to other countries within the EU. The European Commission has also said it will include non-EU Member States, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland but not the United Kingdom. The DGC is supposed to be available for free in digital or paper format.

The European Union government is also asking member countries to waive testing and quarantine requirements for those who are vaccinated, have recently recovered from coronavirus or have negative test results. Each member country can set its own rules.

Related: I was one of the first Americans on a COVID-tested flight to Italy

The EU is calling June a “warm-up phase,” where the certificates are voluntary, with July 1 being the official kick-off. For that reason, Americans should probably wait until the rules and requirements are formalized before making any last-minute plans. The alternative is to book a European trip with a country where we know Americans are already being welcomed, such as Greece, Croatia or Italy.

Related: Where you can go if you’re vaccinated 

Are Americans eligible to use the EU digital certificates?

Americans, so far, cannot use the digital certificates currently in use, but negotiations are reportedly underway to make it a possibility eventually. For now, Americans will need to show their COVID-19 vaccination records and/or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within three days of arrival into Europe.

Related: Everything you need to know about Europe’s digital “vaccine passports” 

What about using them for other purposes?

The digital certificates will also potentially be used for purposes other than travel including going to concerts and other events with large crowds. Austria, for example, wants to use them for access to restaurants and hotels according to El País.

Does this mean you have to be vaccinated?

You do not have to be vaccinated to travel, and the digital passports will also show if you have recently tested negative for coronavirus. According to the EU, vaccination cannot be used as a pre-conditional requirement for travel.

Will these digital certificates cost money?

The digital passports will be free.

Featured image of the Acropolis at sunset, Athens, Greece by sborisov/Getty Images

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