(Photo by Lukas on Unsplash)
The COVID-19 pandemic has been impeding travel for over a year now, and it is still not over. That’s why the European Commission is proposing to create a Digital Green Certificate, or the so-called “vaccine passport”. It will facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU.
In this article, you will learn what this certificate will look like and how it will affect you as a passenger.
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What is a Digital Green Certificate?
On 17 March 2021, the European Commission presented its proposal to create a EU-wide certificate, which will be valid in all EU member states.
The Digital Green Certificate will act as proof that a person has either
- been vaccinated against COVID-19,
- received a negative COVID-19 result, or
- recovered from COVID-19.
The document will be:
- in digital and/or paper format;
- with a QR code;
- free of charge for everyone;
- in English and the national language(s) of the relevant member country;
- safe and secure, protecting personal data;
- valid in all EU countries.
How will citizens receive the Digital Green Certificate?
National authorities will be in charge of providing the certificates. Those could be issued by hospitals, test centres and health authorities.
The digital version will be stored on a mobile device, but people can also ask for a paper version.
Both versions of the certificate include a QR code that contains essential information, as well as a digital seal. The seal will act as proof that the document is authentic.
How will it work?
- The certificate contains a QR code with a digital signature, which prevents falsification.
- When the document is checked, the code is scanned and the signature verified.
- Each issuing body has a specific digital signature key, which is stored in a secure database in each country.
- The European Commission is to build a gateway through which all certificate signatures can be verified across the European Union.
The personal data from the certificate will not pass through the gateway, as this isn’t necessary.
Moreover, the Commission will help member states to develop a software that authorities can use to check QR codes.
What data does the Digital Green Certificate include?
It contains only necessary information such as:
- Date of birth,
- Date of issuance,
- Information about vaccine/test/recovery,
- Unique identifier.
For verification purposes, only the validity and authenticity of the document is checked. All health data is left with the member state which issued the certificate.
What vaccines will be accepted?
Vaccination certificates will be issued to those vaccinated, no matter for which COVID-19 vaccine.
Member states will accept certificates for vaccines which have received EU marketing authorisation.
They might also decide to accept and grant free movement to EU travellers that have received another vaccine.
Will you be able to travel if you are not vaccinated?
Yes - since the certificate is issued not only to those with a proof of vaccination, but also to those with a negative COVID-19 test result or who have already recovered from the virus.
The certificate should facilitate free movement inside the EU. It will not be a pre-condition to free movement, since this is a fundamental right.
When travelling, every EU citizen or third-country national who is legally staying or residing in the EU and holds a Digital Green Certificate should be exempted from free movement restrictions in the same way as citizens from the visited member state.
To sum up
Right now, most countries allow only essential travel. The idea of implementing the Digital Green Certificate is to allow for free - and most importantly - safe movement during the coronavirus pandemic. The idea is for us to start using these certificates by the summer.
Simultaneously, the World Health Organization (WHO) is also working to create an international trusted framework for safe travel. WHO and the Commission are cooperating to ensure that EU certificates will be recognised elsewhere in the world as well.
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