Health pass and vaccines: how to travel in Europe this summer?

If you travel, work or live in another EU Member state, you will not be able to escape this news: the European health pass called " EU Digital COVID Certificate" applies from July 1, 2021. It allows you to prove your immunity to COVID-19 and facilitates your travel within the EU. But how do you get it? How does it work? Is it compulsory for travelling in the EU this summer? In this article, you will find all the answers to your questions on the EU COVID Certificate as well as on vaccination if you have or want to travel.

 

European health pass and travel: how does it work?

The EU COVID certificate, issued free of charge by national authorities in digital or paper form, authenticated by a QR code, is used to prove:

  • either your vaccination,

  • or that you are not a carrier of COVID-19 thanks to negative results of a PCR or antigen test,

  • or that you have recently recovered from the disease thanks for example to a positive test of more than 15 days and less than 6 months.

It will make it easier to get around the EU from this summer on.

Attention! Despite the harmonization of QR code reading systems at the European level, each EU country is free to define its own criteria for the validity of the health pass for entering and leaving the territory. Find out more about Re-open EU!

Examples: France considers the complete vaccination 7 days after your 2nd injection or single injunction. In Germany or Itraly, it is 14 days afer your 2nd injection.

Every EU citizen and their family should be able to obtain a EU COVID certificate free of charge. The same applies to third country nationals who are staying or residing legally in an EU Member state and who have the right to travel to other Member states.

 

Your EU digital COVID certificate includes a QR Code with a tamper-proof digital signature from an issuing body (hospital, vaccination center, test center, etc.). All this data is stored in a secure database in each country. On June 1, 2021, the European Commission set up a portal, the EU-Gateway Service, which verifies all certificate signatures across the EU. When entering an EU Member state, your QR code is scanned and the signature verified. Your personal data are not be transmitted to the gateway service, only the signature is verified.

 

The EU certificate applies in all Member states the July 1, 2021 for a period of 12 months. For countries needing additional time, they have a phased-in period of 6 weeks but as of August 12, all EU countries will have a system connected to the EU gateway service that recognises certificates from other countries.

In France, a health pass has been in effect since June 9. It makes it possible to attend certain events bringing together a large number of people and to facilitate border crossings. The French system is interoperable and therefore recognised by the other EU Member states from June 25. You should therefore be able to travel more easily beyond French borders with the health pass issued by the French authorities and recognised in other European countries.

 

You can obtain a health pass in digital format by including proof of your vaccination, your PCR or negative antigen test (less than 72 hours to travel (less than 24 hours if you are returning from Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, the Netherlands and the UK), less than 48 hours to attend an event in France), or of your recent recovery from the disease COVID-19 in the TousAntiCovid Carnet application.

If you prefer the paper format, all you have to do is present the various documents requested when traveling.

You can also access your certified form via your social security account on https://www.ameli.fr/  (especially if you have been vaccinated before May 3, 2021) and print it for travel if you wish.

Good to know :

  • You don't have to download the TousAntiCovid app but it can come in handy. The paper vaccination certificate can for example be stored via the QR-Code in this application so as not to lose it and to be able to present it when you travel outside French borders. You can also scan the documents of several people (members of the same family for example).

  • The "French-style" health pass includes two systems: a "activities" health pass which allows you to prove your immunity in places in France subject to a strict health protocol (eg: festivals with more than 1000 persons ...) and a "border" health pass which meets the requirements of the European COVID Certificate and facilitates your travel within the EU.

 

This certificate is not a condition for travelling within the EU. It only makes it easier to get around by avoiding, for example, quarantines on arrival. Without this certificate, you will still be able to travel outside French borders, but you will have to respect the entry conditions set by each EU country.

Note: new restrictions could be put in place in a Member state in the event of the propagation of a new variant, for example.

No. Digital certificates are intended to ease restrictions. There are no systematic border controls.

The health pass or proof of your immunity is especially required for air travel.

The certificate can be used in all EU Member states but also in 4 non-EU countries which are members of the Schengen area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

 

Each country sets the languages accepted to read the health pass. Vaccinated in France, to find out which languages are accepted in your destination country, consult the Travel Advice page on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In France, from June 25, 2021, you are able to download certificates of vaccination certified in accordance with European bilingual French-English standards.

Except generalised confinement involving a travel ban, a EU country should not, in principle, refuse entry into its territory of people from another EU Member state. Nor may it impose restrictive measures on the holders of a EU COVID Certificate, unless such restrictions are necessary and proportionate to protect public health and the country has informed the European Commission and all the other Member states thereof.

However, a country may decide to restrict the entry into its territory for people who do not have a European health pass, for example by requiring tests or self-isolation or quarantine on arrival. These measures have to comply with the Council recommendation on the coordination of restrictions on free movement in the EU, which has been updated in June 2021 (see next question).

Currently, the spread of the delta variant seems to justify many of the restrictive measures taken by EU countries in recent days.

To limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic while respecting the principle of free movement in the EU, the 27 Member states adopted in October 2020 a Council recommendation on the coordination of restrictions on free movement in the EU which was updated in June 2021.

This recommendation provides in particular that:

  • Fully vaccinated persons with a EU digital COVID Certificate would be exempt from testing or the 14-days quarantine. This rule should also apply to recovered patients who have received a single dose of a two-dose vaccine.

  • Recovered patients with a EU digital COVID Certificate would be exempt from testing or quarantine, 180 days after their positive PCR test.

  • People with a negative test (less than 72 hours for PCR tests, less than 48 hours for antigenic tests) would be exempt from a possible obligation of quarantine, except when they come from a "red" zone strongly affected by the virus (see next question).
  • Minors under the age of 12 would be exempt from testing.

Minors who travel accompanied would be exempt from quarantine when the accompanying persons would not be placed in quarantine (as they are fully vaccinated for example).

Good to know: Countries remain free to introduce further restrictions if they are necessary and proportionate to protect public health and the European Commission and all other Member States have been informed. Check the official websites of your country of departure and arrival. 
 

To coordinate the restrictive measures which could be put in place at the entry of certain Member states, the 27 EU countries have agreed on a color code and a map published every week showing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The colors green, orange, red, dark red or gray are determined according to 3 criteria:

  • the total number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days;

  • the positivity rate of the tests for the past week;

  • the number of tests carried out per 100,000 inhabitants during the past week.

If you are vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered and in possession of a EU COVID Certificate, you are in principle exempt from testing or quarantine, regardless of the color of the area you come from.

If you are not fully immunised or recovered, you may be restricted in your movement, depending on the color of the area you come from:

  • You come from a green zone: no restrictions.

  • You arrive from an orange zone: you will have to present a negative test or undergo it on arrival.

  • You arrive from a red zone: you will have to present a negative test or failing that, respect a quarantine until the negative result of a screening test after arrival.

  • You arrive from a dark red zone: you will have to present a negative test and respect quarantine on arrival.

Some travelers are exempt from testing or quarantine when they fulfill an essential function or need: health professionals, border workers, students abroad, passengers in transit, diplomats, journalists, ...

Good to know: Many Member States continue to establish their own colour codes and traffic rules or restrictions. Check the official websites of your country of departure and arrival. 

Check the color of your country of departure and arrival until the day before your trip on the website of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

You should not be subject to restrictive measures such as testing or quarantine if you are in transit through another EU Member state.

 

 

The EU COVID Certificate contains only a limited number of information necessary to prove vaccination, testing or recovery: name, date of birth, date of issue, relevant information about the vaccine / test / recovery, unique identifier of the certificate.

The European Commission is committed to respecting the protection of personal data: data cannot be stored and a central data storage base will not be created at EU level.

Since the reopening of bars, restaurants, gyms in France, you must register to be alerted more quickly of positive cases reported in the establishments you visited. The French government has set up a feature on the TousAntiCovid application which allows upon entry into the premises to scan the QR Code displayed by the manager of the establishment by clicking on "Scan a place QR Code".

Not to be confused with TousAntiCovid-Carnet, the other feature of the TousAntiCovid application which allows you to store test, vaccination and cure certificates.

In France, you have to present a health pass:

  • Today. For concerts and all cultural venues with more than 1,000 people and for travel outside French borders.
  • From 21 July: in all leisure and cultural venues with more than 50 people. This means amusement parks, concerts, festivals, museums, theaters and cinemas.
  • From the beginning of August: in "cafés", restaurants, hospitals, old people's homes, social medical institutions and in long-distance transport, i.e. travel by plane, train and bus. 

Vaccine and travel: what are the rules?

No. Every EU citizen has the right to move freely within the EU, whether or not vaccinated.

Before leaving France and until the day before departure, find out about the entry formalities in each European country and the restrictions on:

But people who have been fully vaccinated or recovered, holding a EU digital COVID Certificate, should be exempted from testing or quarantine. Member states are even allowed to lift travel restrictions from the first dose of a double vaccine.

You are considered vaccinated if you have performed a complete vaccination with one of the vaccines recognised by the European Medicines Agency: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

In France, your vaccination is complete if on the date of your travel you received a 2nd dose at least 7 days ago, or you have received the Janssen / Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 4 weeks ago (28 days). Be carreful! These deadlines are not the same in all countries! Check the rules in your destination country on the Re-open EU website! 

Good to know: If you have been vaccinated in France, you can get your vaccination certificate from the social security via www.ameli.fr. From June 25 2021, the vaccination certificate is certified in accordance with European standards, available in French and English, and allows you to travel more easily within the European Union.

No, the vaccination certificate is only valid when you have performed a complete vaccination cycle (see previous question).

If you have been vaccinated in France, at every injection you receive a certified vaccination certificate, it specifies that the vaccination is "in progress" if a second dose is necessary but has not yet been carried out.

 

Yes. Vaccination against COVID-19 is open to anyone residing in France, even without a social security card called “carte vitale”.

 

In principle, you should receive vaccination in your country of residence. So if you are French living abroad, you will need to be vaccinated in that country, especially if you are affiliated with a health insurance fund there.

But exceptionally, you can also get vaccinated in France for free, even without affiliation to the French social security, the vaccination center will create an emergency social security number for you.

In France, children aged 12 to 17 inclusive can be vaccinated at a vaccination center with the consent of both parents (or a sworn statement of one of the parents saying that the consent of the absent parent and co-holder of parental authority has previously been obtained).

 

If you have lost this paper or you did not receive it, do not panic. Connect to your account on the health insurance website www.ameli.fr to find your vaccination certificate online and download it. 

If you can’t access ameli, for example because you don’t have a social security number in France, ask a healthcare professional, in particular your attending physician, for help.