Before, requirements for international travel were not always complicated. Travellers would just need a passport, sometimes a visa. However, the pandemic changed travelling significantly.
Leaving and entering a country means having to understand and be aware of the constantly changing travel rules and requirements which can be rather confusing. It stays true for people who are eager to have a trip to Europe as they start to question whether vaccinated individuals can now travel with a vaccination card only.
The European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) has been effective since July 1, 2021, for all EU citizens and specific categories of travellers from third-world countries. A total of 21 EU member states and three non-EU Schengen Area countries have already implemented the certificate.
What is an EU COVID-19 passport?
The EU COVID-19 Travel Certificate or passport is an one-page document for EU nationals who have been fully vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, with one of the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which are Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen.
People who have either been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative result or recovered from the virus in the last six months are eligible to obtain the certificate.
This COVID-19 passport aims to restore freedom of travel since the pandemic caused travelling to be placed on hold for a period of time unless it is essential for them to travel. The passport is accepted in all EU Member states, and holders shall be exempt from travel restrictions such as entry bans, quarantine, and further testing unless mandatory regardless of their vaccination status.
How can travellers use the EU Vaccination Passport?
For travellers who want to travel within the EU, they need to carry their COVID-19 certificate either in digital or in paper format. The passport will grant travellers free movement inside the EU. Without one, travellers might be subjected to restrictions like testing and quarantine.
The EU vaccination will need to be presented at border controls. Additionally, the passport will contain the holder’s digital signature key, which is part of the QR code, to prevent fraud or falsifications.
Can EU citizens travel to non-EU countries with the EU COVID-19 passport?
The EU vaccine certificate is open to global initiatives initiated by the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The Commission is currently working to make the certificates compatible with those developed in third-world countries.
All travel to the EU from countries on this list regardless of vaccination status is permitted. Also, non-EU citizens with an EMA-authorised vaccine may travel to the EU regardless of purpose. Travel will also be possible to places where the health situation has improved. The list is available here.
If you are yet to be vaccinated, you have the option to get a Covid-19 test and travel freely.
How long will the EU Digital COVID Certificate be in place?
The regulation on the said passport will apply for a year or 12 months from July 1, 2021. If the scheme needs to run longer than a year, the Commission should propose to extend the COVID certificate taking into account the severity of the pandemic.