As the global vaccine roll-out accelerates, more countries are beginning to explore how they can enable vaccinated people to travel and enjoy public areas such as restaurants and sports venues. Just in time for the summer tourist season, the EU has launched its proposed digital vaccine passport.
Previously, there were many reports of long delays and waiting times at the airports as immigration officers and airline staff were trying to go through the test certificates from all kind of sources/countries in multiple different formats with some reports of people trying to prove their right with fake certificates.
The so-called covid passports will give people the possibility to travel almost as easy as before the pandemic as it will provide a trustable, standardized document which many of the airlines and border immigration officers will be able to use during their pre-flight checks.
The vaccine passports will provide people unrestricted access to flights, tourist attractions, restaurants, bars and other venues where crowds of people are likely to gather. It may also mean that many countries which now got their quarantine in hotel/at home restrictions in place may allow travellers with green passports to skip them and enjoy their stay in the same as they used to.
Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová said: “The Digital Green Certificate offers an EU-wide solution to ensure that EU citizens benefit from a harmonised digital tool to support free movement in the EU. This is a good message in support of recovery. Our key objectives are to offer an easy to use, non-discriminatory and secure tool that fully respects data protection. And we continue working towards international convergence with other partners.”
- Green Passports for both vaccinated and non-vaccinated people
As some countries roll the vaccines slower than the others and some people might not be able to be vaccinated at all during their health condition, the EU says that even people who did not have their vaccine may be using the digital green certificate, for example, to prove their negative tests, rather than having uncentraliazed forms from various testing centres.
Green Passports: Supported types of vaccines
As long as the vaccine has been approved by the EU (EMA), it will be included in the Green Digital Passport system and all members of the EU will accept them. If a member state will require tougher measures even for travellers with the green passport, it must notify and explain reasons to the European Commission.
Green Passports security
There is surely a concern by the people all around the world that Digital Green Passports may be a tool to track people or discriminate in some way. The new digital certificates will, however, be secure and contain only a limited, most necessary set of information such as your name, date of birth, date of issuance and relevant details about your vaccine/test/recovery. This all will also be under a unique identifier code to prove the authenticity of the certificate.
The Green passports will specifiacly be used for following:
- Vaccination certificates, which state which brand of the vaccine used, data and place of inoculation and number of doses administered.
- Negative test certificates (either a NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test). Self-tests will be excluded for the time being.
- Medical certificates for people who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 180 days.
Where will the Digital Green Passport be valid?
It will be valid in all EU states and available for Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway as well as Switzerland shall they choose so. All EU citizens and their family members regardless of their nationality will be able to use the Green Passports, as well as non-EU nationals who reside in the EU and to visitors who have the right to travel to other Member States.
It has been said that the Digital Green Passports are here to be only temporarily, until the day the WHO (World Health Organisation) declares the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. They might however appear in future if a similar situation occurs and if they prove to be working well.
The exact look of the certificate may still change as the European Commision is about to discuss about it in the following weeks. They will also discuss which vaccines will be accepted in the Passport, even though it has been proposed to accept only vaccines approved directly by the EMA (European Medicines Agency).
If all goes by the EU’s plans, the Digital Green passports should be here by summer 2021.