(CNN) – What travel will look like in the near future is on everyone’s lips, and as Europe begins to reopen its borders to travelers from outside the continent, the European Union has announced the launch of its EU Covid digital certificate, which will allow freedom from Movement around the block.
Nine countries are already using the system to issue certificates, and more are expected to join before the official start of the system on July 1. The EU Parliament voted overwhelmingly on June 9 to approve the system.
“The EU will reopen on time this summer,” said Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, in a statement.
So who is entitled to the certificate and how do you get it? Here’s what you should know.
What is it?
Hopefully this will open up travel within Europe this summer and ease the pressure on travelers for multiple tests. If you are currently traveling between two EU countries, you will have to comply with each of their individual entry rules – which can mean daily tests when driving or taking the train around the continent.
However, three things are recorded on the certificate: the holder’s vaccination record, negative tests, or a record of previous infection – which is supposed to make the trip easier.
It is valid in all EU member states as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland looks likely too.
Is that the same as the EU Covid vaccine passport?
Yes – it is the EU-wide program for intra-block travel. Also known as the “Immunity Passport” or “Health Passport”, although the EU Digital Covid Certificate is the official (and more boring) name.
Is it a digital or a paper certificate?
That is up to the owner – you can choose between the two. Both contain a “digitally signed QR code” that can be scanned when entering a country. It will be written in both the national language of the issuing country and English. The member states have agreed on a common design.
How does it work?
Each issuing body is assigned a digital signature that is embedded in the QR code; Border guards scan the QR code to see the data, although no personal data is viewed – nor is the holder’s personal data passed through the gateway that nations use to verify the signatures.
When does it start?
The program will officially start on July 1st, with member states being given an additional six weeks if necessary. However, with European countries vying for visitors, it seems doubtful that there will be stragglers. In fact, nine Member States already issue certificates.
Note that the European Parliament has yet to vote on the law to go into effect, but it is expected to be passed by a large majority.
The system has been in planning since March and was provisionally agreed on May 20. The EU gateway went live on June 1st – it enables cross-border verification of certificates.
Which countries use it?
On June 8th, nine EU member states joined: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Poland and Spain. Expect others to join soon – countries that rely on tourism are trying to lure tourists back before their rivals. According to the EU Commission, 22 countries have already successfully tested the gateway.
Who is Eligible?
An employee of Fiumicino Airport showed on 5.
ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP / AFP via Getty Images
EU citizens and their families as well as legal residents, so the official statement so far.
Great Britain is also said to have been in negotiations. Travelers from the UK are not yet exempt from EU-wide restrictions due to the Delta variant, which was first found in India and is now predominant in the UK.
The EU has also stated that it is “working to ensure that the certificates are compatible with systems in other countries” for holders traveling outside the bloc.
Do i need to be vaccinated to get it?
No. The certificate also stores recent recovery from Covid-19 and negative test results – including lateral flow and PCR.
Do I have to be fully vaccinated?
Not necessarily – the certificate will keep a record of whether you received a can or two. It is up to the individual member states to decide whether the certificate is acceptable with just one.
Will the vaccination I received affect the certificate?
Yes. Only vaccines that are approved in the EU count – if, for example, Sinovac or Sputnik V didn’t count. At least that’s the block-wide rule; individual countries can adapt the rules.
Currently, the EU has approved AstraZeneca, Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
How many people have it already?
According to the EU Commission, more than a million people had already registered by Tuesday.
Is there a fee for this?
No, it’s free. Make sure you get it through the official channels – undoubtedly, fake websites are already being created to get you your certificate for a fee. The EU has also promised that the certificates will be easily available.
How do I get the certificate?
The individual countries issue their own certificates, be it via a portal, through health authorities or in test centers. Expect more information to be announced shortly before launch.
Can I definitely move around freely or are there additional country-specific restrictions?
The EU has stated that holders should be “exempted from restrictions on free movement in principle” and urged Member States to “refrain from imposing additional restrictions on holders” “unless they are necessary and proportionate to protect public health” – For example, if a new variant causes concern. States that want to enforce new restrictions must justify their decision to the EU authorities.
Travelers show their documents to a border police officer at the immigration desk at Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle International Airport on February 1, 2021.
Christophe Archambault / AFP / Getty Images
Of course, this does not prevent them from imposing additional restrictions on those without passports.
Do the countries have their own systems?
Each country runs its own program under the umbrella of the European program.
Do i need an app?
Most likely. The EU does not produce a single app; Countries have to regulate their own system.
How safe is it?
The EU says that information stored in certificate QR codes can be verified “without processing personal data”. Although the certificate itself contains data such as name, date of birth and vaccination / recovery dates, it will not be displayed when verified or saved in other states. Only the valid digital signature is checked.