With more COVID-19 vaccines getting approved, and more people being vaccinated throughout the EU Member States and the Schengen Area Associate countries, the urge to restore travel for those vaccinated has also increased. Find out more about vaccination certificates for travel to Europe below.
The so-called ‘vaccination passports’ or ‘vaccination certificates’ have gained huge attention in the recent weeks, after several of the Member States warned they would start issuing them to their citizens, so those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 have proof of it, Schengen Visa Info reports.
The idea of such documents has been supported even by the European Council, though the latter insists that right now it is too early to decide for what those certificates could be used.
“Leaders agreed to work on a standardised and interoperable form of proof of vaccination for medical purposes. Leaders will determine at a later stage in what circumstances these certificates could be used,” the Council noted in a press release of January 21, after the Greek PM brought the issue to the video meeting.
Previously, the President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen had supported the idea of common vaccination certificates, which can be created by the EU, and issued by the Member States to every person who gets vaccinated against COVID-19.
Following, find a list of all EU and Schengen area countries that have warned that they either plan on introducing these certificates or plan to permit restriction-free entry for those who hold such documents, as well as those who have only shown support for the certificates so far.
Cyprus was the first EU Member State to announce its plans on the abolishment of entry requirements like testing and quarantine for those vaccinated against COVID-19.
The government plans to permit entering its territory travellers from the EU at least, who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, without any restrictions, which means that these travellers will have to show proof they have been vaccinated against COVId-19.
The Czech Republic is also looking into the possibility of allowing restriction-free travel for vaccinated persons, though it is not planning to make the vaccine a requirement for travel.
Speaking before the Czech Chamber of Deputies, Health Minister Jan Blatný, talked about the potential ‘vaccine passport’ that at the time was being discussed among EU officials.
“It is certainly easier to go out with a card in your pocket than to have an examination performed before each border crossing,” the Minister said at the time.
The Czech government has, however, not warned of plans to start granting such documents to its citizens anytime soon.
Denmark Vaccination certificates for travel
Denmark, on the meantime, has warned that it will soon introduce COVID-19 vaccine passports for its citizens who receive the vaccine against the virus so that they can use those certificates to travel restriction-free to countries that asl for them.
While the passports were supposed to be ready by the end of January, the Danish government has now decided to offer digital vaccination passports even for those planning to travel to Denmark.
Announcing the decision Finance Minister Morten Boedskov said that in about three or four months, the digital passport would be ready for use for example, for business travel.
“It will be the extra passport that you will be able to have on your mobile phone that documents that you have been vaccinated,” Boedskov said, noting that the country may be the first in the world to introduce this form of identification for vaccinated people.
Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and World Health Organization Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have signed an agreement which permits Estonian entrepreneurs and researchers to start working on a digital immunisation certificate and interoperability projects, back on October 5.
The agreement allows Estonia to work on creating a yellow vaccination card which will enable a reliable and transparent cross-border exchange of vaccination data.
“Our pilot project presents an extraordinary opportunity for the Estonian community to help the world in the fight against COVID-19 and to make our experience of building digital services globally,” PM Ratas said, adding that he hopes the digital immunisation certificate would open the door to wider cooperation. “
The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was the first EU leader to officially call on the EU institutions to work on the reintroduction of a Coronavirus vaccination certificate in order to facilitate travel between the bloc.
The PM sent a letter to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, pointing out that the authorities in Greece were attempting to introduce a certificate for “facilitating the freedom of movement of persons who have been vaccinated against COVID-19,” and urging the Commission to push for a common EU vaccination certificate.
On January 26, Greece moved forward with its plan to ease restrictions and resume travel through vaccination certificates, after Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis agreed with his Serbian counterpart Tatjana Matic to sign a joint memorandum of understanding in the field of tourism.
The latter foresees a mutual recognition of an ‘electronic Covid-19 vaccination certificate’ for travel between the two countries.
For a few weeks now, Hungarians who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the virus are permitted to enter restrictions-free if they can prove their immunity with a plastic card. Those holding such card in Hungary may soon enjoy additional benefits as the liberty to stay out past the national curfew of 8 pm.
Iceland Vaccination certificates for travel
Since January 21, 2021, Iceland authorities have started granting ‘COVID-19 vaccination certificates’ to Icelandic citizens who received the second jab of the vaccine against the virus, becoming the first country in the Schengen Area to start the practice of granting these documents to persons vaccinated against COVID-19.
The country also launched an electronic solution that enables people to obtain a vaccination certificate online – heilsuvera.is.
Iceland has also decided to recognise all ‘COVID-19 vaccination certificates’ that will soon be issued by any of the EU and Schengen countries. Travellers that reach Iceland and hold a document that proves they have been vaccinated in any of these countries will be exempt from border screening procedures.
While the Italian government has not indicated of any plans regarding vaccination certificates, Italy’s National Federation of Travel and Tourism Industry has called on the Italian government to speed up the national vaccination rollout, and issue certificates to those who take the vaccine against the virus.
The Federation, among others, has reminded the government that after ten months of inactivity, the Italian tourism industry must restart by the end of spring the latest, thus urging the government to find solutions compatible, as granting and admitting vaccination certificates for travel.
Poland has also revealed plans to introduce vaccine passports, in order to permit those who have taken the COVID-19 vaccine greater freedoms than those who have not.
The document will be issued in the form of a QR code, downloadable only at the citizens’ public health system account. Another alternative printed version will be issued to those who do not have smartphones.
“The document will be the so-called passport of the vaccinated person, which will confirm that the person has been vaccinated and can use the rights to which vaccinated people are entitled,” said Anna Golawska, Poland’s Deputy Minister of Health.
While it remains unclear whether the document will be used for cross border travel, the fact that it is being called a ‘passport’ is a big indication.
The idea of creating ta ‘vaccination certificate’, which would facilitate the travel between European countries has also been supported by Portuguese authorities.
Portugal’s Minister of the Interior Eduardo Cabrita believes that vaccination is safe enough to allow abolishing several measures at the European Union’s internal borders, asserting that the document “should act as proof of security and do away with certain requirements at borders – in particular, the requirement for PCR tests”.
Slovakia is among the EU countries that has shown its support towards the introduction of the COVID-19 certificate, which the Slovak government believes would allow the highest possible level of free movement in the EU while maintaining the necessary security.
“Such a certificate should, in addition to the data on the vaccination itself, also contain information on the completed tests or possible overcoming of the COVID-19 disease,” State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Martin Klus said on January 18 during an informal videoconference of ministers and state secretaries for European affairs of European Union countries.
The same has also asserted that amid the current restrictions within the EU, such a document could relieve people of unnecessary bureaucracy.
Spain’s Tourism Minister, Reyes Maroto has also announced that the country’s government is working to create a ‘vaccination certificate’, that will have the same use as the ones that are set to be launched by some other EU countries. Vaccination certificates for travel
Sweden is one of the most recent countries revealing plans for a digital coronavirus passport by summer in order to identify people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“For certificates to work internationally, they must be recognised by countries around the world,” social minister Lena Hallengren said announcing the decision while explaining that Sweden is already working actively to develop an international standard for certificates.
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