COVID-19 vaccination certificates in EU countries

  • 28 January, 2021

    COVID-19 vaccination certificates soon to be a reality in Schengen and EU countries.

     

    Since the pandemic started countries around the world have set regulations and changes to protect their citizens from COVID-19. As a result new requirements need to be met by those who need traveling to another country whether it is for business or a personal matter.

    Now that there’s finally a vaccine, many countries have considered the idea of including a COVID-19 vaccination passport or certification to travel. The main purpose of these documentations is to facilitate travel by exempting people from disease control measures when entering a country.

    Last year, Ursula von der Leyen, Comission President of the European Union stated at a press conference that having a COVID-19 vaccination certificate is a “medical necessity.” However, she believes that it is also necessary to find a practical alternative for those that haven’t had access to the vaccine yet.

    Von Derl Leyen proposed combining the certificate along with negative results from coronavirus test.  This alternative helps preventing possible discrimination against those that need traveling but are yet to be vaccinated.

    On the same side of the debate, Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been one of the main exponents of this idea along with many other EU members. Considering that Greek economy relies on travel and tourism he considers that the certified should not be a condition to travel but a guarantee to facilitate it.

    Mitsotakis urged in a letter sent to Commission’s president to establish a common vaccination certificated for all EU members in order to facilitate travels between the bloc.

     

    Iceland, first Schengen country to implement COVID-19 vaccination certificate.

    On January 21, 2021 Iceland became the first country to initiate a policy to grant a vaccination certificate for COVID-19 for its citizens. A press release issued by the Ministry of Health states that the certificate aims to facilitate travel, helping people avoid virus control measures outside the country.

    Along with this decision, the Ministry also announced that the Office of the Medical Director of Health has set up an electronic portal for citizens to obtain their certificate online. The certificate follows all international rules and standards on vaccination certificates and the Chief Epidemiologist’s guidelines.

    All Icelandic citizens that have already been vaccinated can access to this electronic portal and request their certificate; while those who are still waiting access to it can get it once they get the vaccine.

    As for foreigners entering the country, Iceland authorities have decided to recognize vaccination certificates issued by any of the EEA/EFTA countries, where certification isn’t established yet.

    Vaccination certificates to enter the country must follow some specific requirements in order to be accepted:

    • First and last name of the holder (matching the travel documents)
    • Date of birth
    • Date of the test
    • Country, city and address of where the test was performed
    • Name of the laboratory and issuer of the certificate
    • Date of when the certificate was created
    • Contact information of the responsible authority or laboratory (phone number)
    • Type of test performed; antibody test with ELISA/serologic assay or PCR-test
    • Detailed results of the test
    • The certificate must be in one of five languages: Icelandic, English, Swedish, Norwegian or Danish.

     

    It is important to note that the request for such certificates is not a limitation to enter the country. It simply exempts holders from going through COVID-19 existing border screening procedures.

    Those that don’t have the vaccine certificate must undergo two COVID-19 detection tests after arrival, with mandatory home-based quarantine time between the two of them. The first test takes place at the border upon entering and it is free of charge. After admission, visitors must follow some mandatory rules to protect citizens.

    Five or six days later the second screening test takes place, and it must be performed in a healthcare centre. Depending on the results, visitors will be isolated or relieved from their quarantine.

     

    European Union and Schengen Area Member States plan joining Iceland in this initiative.

    As stated in 2020, other members are currently working on issuing vaccination certificates to their citizens. Spain, Denmark and Greece are some of the countries behind this initiative; as well as removing travel restrictions for those individuals that hold proof being vaccinated.

    Cyprus, stated in early December that their borders authorities will allow entering the country to individuals holding a proof of vaccination. This policy will be affective by March 2021.