The vaccination card, which can be used throughout the EU, should make traveling in Europe easier from Thursday despite the corona pandemic. But not all EU countries will be there at the start. And airlines warn of queues at check-in because of additional controls. In addition, the member states still have the option of imposing travel restrictions, for example because of the contagious Delta variant. Carefree vacation for vaccinated people is therefore not yet in sight.
What’s the benefit?
The digital EU certificate is intended to enable travel across Europe’s borders with as few restrictions as possible. The EU member states have promised to waive quarantine and test obligations for owners.
In Germany as well as in the travel countries, it could also be used where evidence of those who have been tested, vaccinated or recovered is required. Depending on the applicable country regulations, this may still be necessary, for example, when checking in at a hotel, visiting cultural institutions, sporting events and church services, or even in hairdressing salons and fitness facilities. Or for indoor areas in restaurants, cafes and pubs.
What information does the certificate contain?
The proof should provide information about whether a person can spread the coronavirus, or at least about how likely this is. Therefore, the data on the times of vaccination and the vaccines used are stored. The document can also contain current test results and information about a coronavirus disease.
How does it work?
The certificate consists of a QR or barcode that can be scanned. A digital signature should ensure that it is forgery-proof. The evidence can be saved on mobile devices or printed out. An electronic EU platform ensures that the authenticity can be checked Europe-wide.
How can I save the certificate electronically?
In Germany there is a special app that can be downloaded for this. Alternatively, the Corona warning app can be used.
Is the certificate compulsory when traveling?
No. It only serves to simplify controls at airports, for example. Vaccinations can also be proven by a conventional vaccination certificate.
The German Travel Association (DRV) advises that you have both the yellow vaccination certificate and the digital vaccination certificate with you when you travel. “After all, the cell phone can be stolen from time to time, or you lose it, or it falls into the water,” says spokeswoman Kerstin Heinen, citing examples of the limits of the digital certificate.
How do I get the certificate in Germany?
The certificate has been routinely issued for vaccinations since mid-June. Anyone who was vaccinated before can have the digital proof later can be exhibited free of charge in pharmacies. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, 40 million certificates have been issued in Germany so far.
Which vaccines count?
All member states have to accept the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). These are currently the funds from Biontech / Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. National governments can also accept other vaccines. It is also up to them to decide whether to accept the proof of vaccination if only one of the two required doses has been administered.
Will the certificate work in all Member States by July 1st?
Probably not. By Wednesday, 21 of the 27 member states were connected to the EU system. Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and Hungary were still missing. The reason are technical or start-up problems. The non-EU countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are already included.
What does the certificate mean for handling at airports?
European associations of airlines and airports warn of queues at passenger handling. They criticize the burden of controls being placed on them and see inconsistent national systems as an additional difficulty. Accordingly, previous experience shows that the average check-in times increase by 500 percent to twelve minutes per passenger. Travelers should therefore plan more time when taking off.
Are quarantine and test obligations excluded with the certificate?
No. The member states should avoid this as far as possible, but they can, for example, pull an “emergency brake” when new virus variants appear and impose restrictions and requirements again. Germany has just declared Portugal a virus variant area. Anyone who comes back from there has to be in quarantine for 14 days with or without a certificate.