Digital vaccine passports available as of July 1: European Commission

In the wake of successful negotiations between the European Council and the European Parliament, the European Commission said that “EU digital COVID certificates” would be available as of July 1.

Dubbing the freshly struck deal on the scheme “good news for all European citizens”, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Friday that the European Union's COVID-19 certificate should be up and running by July 1.

“Three types of certificates will be available free of charge and on paper or digitally; one attesting vaccination with an EU-approved shot, one showing negative test results and one for people who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection,” the official said.

Mr Reynders went on to say that the certificates would allow EU citizens to "circulate more freely within the EU in total health safety" and would support economic sectors dependent on free movement.

For the member states in need of more time to implement the scheme, a six-week transition period will follow, the commissioner expounded, adding that it would cover most of the peak tourism season of July and August.

Once fully implemented, the plan will oblige Member States to refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on the holders of an EU Digital COVID Certificate, unless they are necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health.

The availability of the certificates will be unlimited within the bloc. It will be irrelevant which country will have issued a certificate.

"All member states must get fully ready during the month of June, so they can hit the ground running," Commissioner Reynders said, adding that the commission was offering technical and financial support.

Entirely free of charge, the certificate will be available in digital and paper-based format. The Member States may use it for national purposes if this is provided for in national law. The certificate will be issued by national institutions such as hospitals, vaccination points and centres, and so on. At the motion of the customer, employees of such institutions will provide a digital certificate and send it to a company responsible for the technical matters of the document. Once the document is ready it will be sent back to the institution, i.e., hospital, clinic, etc.

Having been processed this way, the certificate will be available for download on a mobile device or issued as a hard copy. Both versions will include QR codes containing crucial information and a digital seal proving the certificate’s authenticity.

During border controls, only the authenticity and the validity of the certificate is to be verified. The degree of the availability of a citizen’s health-related data remains at the issuing state’s discretion.

The system has been tested over the last two weeks in 17 Member States and in Iceland. Citizens were not taking part in the pilot run, instead, artificial data were used.

Finally, the Commission will also mobilise USD 100 million to support the Member States in providing affordable tests.