The European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate, also known as the Digital Green Certificate (or DGC), is one of the first travel passes developed to allow for safe travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what travelers need to know about this new option so they can get one (if that is an option for them).
The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a document certifying that a person has either:
These documents will come in both a digital and a paper format, complete with a QR code that can be scanned to get more information or verify the document’s authenticity.
The so-called “vaccine passport” should allow for free movement among EU countries and travel while in a country that is not one’s home country. A few countries may also require them for admittance to concerts, restaurants, hotels, and other public venues.
The DGC can be obtained for free and should be valid for travel in all EU member countries. As the certificate rolls out, it may be valid in some countries before it is valid in others. However, the goal is to make them available in all EU member countries by July 1, 2021.
The Digital Green Certificate will eventually include other states that are not members of the EU. These include Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland, and Norway, but will not include the United Kingdom at this time.
By July 1, 2021, all people who are citizens of or living in a country that is a member of the European Union should be able to get a Digital COVID Certificate. Some countries may not quite have the system up and running by that deadline, in which case the DGCs should be available ASAP.
It is unclear at this time whether United States citizens can get a Digital Green Certificate. They definitely cannot get one before they enter the EU. Instead, they must show the documentation that the particular country requires of them. This is usually either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a recent negative COVID-19 test result.
However, once inside an EU member country, American citizens may be able to get a Digital COVID Certificate of their own. Travelers may be able to petition the national authorities of the country they are visiting to issue them a certificate if they can show proof of vaccination or of a recent negative COVID test.
Once the certificate is issued, though, it is unclear how it would be registered or used, since there is not currently a place in the EU database for DGCs belonging to non-residents. There are conversations in place to determine how to offer these vaccine passports to Americans and to people from other countries, as well. However, these conversations are ongoing and have not been resolved at the time this article was written.
National health authorities in each EU country are responsible for issuing the Digital COVID Certificate. Some countries are issuing them alongside every COVID-19 vaccine that is given or negative test result that comes through. Other countries are asking people to request them via an eHealth portal.
Travelers will need to familiarize themselves with the process in their particular country. If they are unsure how to proceed, they should contact their local health authorities to get accurate information. The Digital Green Certificate will be issued as a mobile certificate unless a paper one is requested. Every individual who gets a certificate will be issued their own QR code. They can simply have health authorities in other countries scan this code to view their COVID-19 status.
Every DGC will also come with a digital signature. This guarantees the authenticity of the certificate and makes it harder to duplicate or illegally issue the document. Member countries have also agreed on a common design for both the digital and paper versions of the certificate.
Once travelers have their EU Digital COVID Certificate, they will simply need to show it, along with their passport, when they go to enter another EU country. Officials will scan the QR code, then allow the traveler to visit the country unimpeded.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate is one of the first travel documents designed to make visiting other countries both easier and safer in light of the current pandemic. It might take some time to get used to having and using this additional documentation, but it should make travelers feel safer when visiting the European Union.