The EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) is now being issued by several European countries a month ahead of schedule.
The electronic platform is set for an official launch on July 1, 2021. However, the EU Gateway — the technical system that verifies the certificates — is ready and went live on June 1.
Already 9 EU member states have begun issuing EUDCCs after connecting to the gateway. Others are waiting until they are satisfied that all functions are ready on a nationwide level.
This news comes shortly after a provisional agreement was reached on May 20 2021 between the European Parliament and the Council regarding the regulation of the proposed EUDCC. This came just 2 months after the European Commission (EC) proposed the electronic certificate to facilitate travel in the pandemic.
The EC has welcomed the news as a big step towards reopening EU borders to travelers. This is expected to provide a huge boost for the European economy and tourist industry for summer 2021.
The EUDCC (previously named the “Digital Green Certificate”) will be available to all EU travelers.
Secure servers will protect users’ information while providing them a means of showing that they are COVID-free and safe to travel.
EUDCC Agreement Reached by European Parliament and Council
The European Parliament and Council have reached an agreement in record time following the proposal for the digital travel health certificate.
Negotiations were led by Commissioner Didier Reynders, working closely with Vice-Presidents Margaritis Schinas and Vera Jourová, as well as Commissioners Thierry Breton, Ylva Johansson, and Stella Kyriakides.
With the agreement provisionally in place, the Regulation for the EU Digital COVID Certificate will be ready for launch by the end of June, as previously planned. However, the gateway has already gone live and a number of countries are now using it — a whole month early.
EC President Ursula von der Leyen praised the rapid progress of the plan, saying:
“We are delivering on our commitment to have the EU Digital COVID Certificate up and running before the summer. European citizens are looking forward to traveling again, and today’s agreement means they will be able to do so safely very soon.”
Which Countries Are Issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates?
The EUDCC gateway went live on June 1, 2021. A number of EU countries have already connected to the platform and are using it to verify certificates. They have also started issuing EUDCCs to their citizens.
The 9 member states that are already using the EUDCC system are as follows:
Lithuania and Spain joined the others on 7 June 2021. Spain is currently only issuing certificates to individuals who request one until the system is fully implemented on 1 July.
Other countries are expected to follow suit and connect to the gateway ahead of the official launch date on July 1. Over 20 member states have tested the system. Most countries in the EU are technically ready to connect already.
What Does the EU Digital COVID Certificate Show?
The EU Digital COVID Certificate shows whether the holder is safe to travel. It uses 3 criteria to show if an individual is unlikely to have coronavirus:
- Recovery from a previous infection
- Recent COVID-19 tests
The EUDCC is available in the following formats:
Each comes with a QR code that can be scanned when entering an EU country.
Which vaccines are accepted for the EUDCC?
Travelers who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 in the past but have recovered are thought to be immune from catching the virus again, at least for a time.
Those who received their vaccine before the launch of the EUDCC will still be registered as vaccinated on the system.
The following vaccines are accepted by all EU member states :
- Johnson & Johnson
Which COVID-19 tests are accepted for the EUDCC?
Individuals who tested negative within the past few days are also permitted to travel. This means that a vaccine is not necessary to exercise the right to freedom of movement within the Schengen Area and EU.
Accepted tests include the following:
- Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs), including RT-PCR
- Rapid antigen tests
Self-tests are not eligible, at least initially.
Traveling to the EU with the COVID Certificate
The digital system allows travelers to enter EU countries with minimal restrictions.
Initially, it is aimed primarily at EU nationals. The bloc’s principles of freedom of movement have been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now a priority for EU authorities to allow their citizens to travel freely once again.
“All EU citizens have a fundamental right to free movement in the EU. The EU Digital COVID Certificate, available in paper or digital format, will make it easier for Europeans to travel – whether to see their families and loved ones or to get some well-deserved rest,” said EC President von der Leyen.
EU countries have been advised against imposing any other COVID-19 travel restrictions on passengers with an EUDCC. There should only be additional measures if they are necessary and proportionate to protect public health.
As well as opening up travel for EU citizens, the EUDCC will be made available to visitors from certain countries outside the bloc, although the list has yet to be finalized. Travelers from outside the EU must also remember to apply for any necessary authorizations or visas for Europe.
In addition, the EC is pushing to make COVID-19 testing affordable, accessible, and readily available for all to ensure that the EUDCC is not exclusive to those who have been vaccinated. The Commission has announced that it will give EU member states €100 million to provide affordable tests.
Will the EUDCC be used for anything other than travel?
The main purpose of the EUDCC is to facilitate travel around Europe.
However, it is possible that some member countries will use it for authorization for access to certain things at a domestic level, provided that this is allowed under their own national law.
So far, it is unclear whether any EU country will opt to use the EUDCC for reasons other than entering from abroad.
Next Steps for the EU Digital COVID Certificate
Now that the provisional agreement is in place, the European Parliament will vote on formally adopting the regulation.
A press release by the Council of the EU announced that the vote was expected to take place at the plenary session of the European Parliament on June 7-10 2021. After this, the regulations will be officially adopted by the Council. Both the Council and Parliament will have to sign these regulations.
The Regulation for the EU Digital COVID Certificate is expected to come into force on July 1, 2021. There will be a period of six (6) weeks following this for certain EU member states who need additional time to phase in the EUDCC.
The European Commission has pledged to continue to offer help to all EU countries in implementing the EUDCC. It will provide both financial and technical support to ensure that each nation can issue and verify certificates via the electronic platform.