(CNN) – What travel will look like in the near future is the question 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 digital Covid certificate. of the EU – intended to allow freedom of movement around the bloc.
Already, nine countries are using the program to issue certificates, and more are expected to join before the program officially launches on July 1. The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve the program on June 9.
“The EU will arrive in time to reopen this summer,” said Thierry Breton, Internal Market Commissioner, in a statement.
So who is eligible for the certificate and how do you get it? Here is what you need to know.
What is that?
This is what will hopefully open up travel to Europe this summer and ease the pressure on travelers for multiple testing. Currently, you are traveling between two EU countries and you will have to adhere to each of their individual entry rules – which can mean daily testing if you drive or take the train across the continent.
The certificate, however, will record three things: the holder’s vaccination record, negative tests, or a record of previous infection – which should make travel easier.
It will be valid in all EU Member States, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland also seems likely.
Is it the same as the European Covid vaccine passport?
Yes – this is the European program for trips inside the block. Also known as an ‘immunity pass’ or ‘health pass’, although the EU’s Covid digital certificate is the official (and more bland) name.
Is it a digital or paper certificate?
It will depend on the holder – you can choose between one or the other. Both will contain a “digitally signed QR code” which can be scanned upon entering a country. It will be both in the national language of the country that issued it, plus English. Member States have agreed on a common understanding.
How it works?
Each issuing body has been assigned a digital signature, which is integrated into the QR code; border staff will scan the QR code to see the data, although no personal data will be seen – and the holder’s personal data will also not pass through the gateway countries use to verify signatures.
When does it start?
The program officially begins on July 1, with member states having an additional six weeks if they need it. However, with European countries vying for visitors, it seems unlikely that there will be any latecomers. In fact, nine Member States already issue certificates.
Note that the European Parliament has yet to vote on the bill to make it law, but it is expected to pass by a large majority.
The program has been in planning since March and was provisionally approved on May 20. EU Gateway went live on June 1 – it allows certificates to be verified across borders.
Which countries use it?
As of June 8, nine EU Member States were registered: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Poland and Spain. Expect others to join before too long – countries that depend on tourism try to attract tourists before their rivals. Already 22 countries have successfully tested the gateway, according to the European Commission.
Who is eligible?
A Fiumicino Airport employee displays a portable “Smart-Helmet” thermoscanner to screen passengers and staff for COVID-19, May 5, 2020 at Rome Fiumicino Airport.
ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP / AFP via Getty Images
EU citizens and their families, and legal residents, according to the official word so far.
The UK has also reportedly been in negotiations. Travelers from the UK are not yet exempt from EU-wide restrictions, due to the Delta variant, first found in India and now dominant in the UK.
The EU also said it is “working to ensure that certificates can be compatible with systems in other countries” for holders traveling outside the bloc.
Do I need to be vaccinated to get it?
No. The certificate will also store recent Covid-19 recovery, along with negative test results – including lateral flow, as well as PCR.
Do I need to be fully vaccinated?
Not necessarily – the certificate will record whether you received one or two doses. It is up to each Member State to decide whether the certificate is acceptable with just one.
Does the vaccination I received affect the certificate?
Yes, only vaccines approved for use in the EU count – so whether Sinovac or Sputnik V, for example, wouldn’t count. At least that’s the rule at the block level; each country can change the rules.
Currently, the EU has approved AstraZeneca, Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
How many people have already had it?
More than a million people had already registered on Tuesday, according to the European Commission.
Are there any charges for this?
No it’s free. Make sure you get it through the official channels – no doubt there are already fake sites being set up to get you your certificate for a fee. The EU has also promised that the certificates will be easy to obtain.
How to get the certificate?
Each country will issue its own certificates, whether through a portal, through health authorities or at testing centers. Expect more information to be announced closer to launch.
Can I definitely move around freely with it, or are there additional country specific restrictions?
The EU said holders “should in principle be exempt from restrictions on free movement” and called on 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 gives rise to concern. States wishing to apply new restrictions must justify their decision to the EU authorities.
Travelers present their documents to a border police officer at the immigration counter at Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle international airport on February 1, 2021.
Christophe Archambault / AFP / Getty Images
Of course, that doesn’t stop them from imposing additional restrictions on those who don’t have passes.
Do countries run their own regimes?
Each country will manage its own program, under the aegis of the European program.
Do i need an app?
Most likely. The EU does not produce a single application; countries must regulate their own system.
How secure is it?
The EU says that information stored in QR codes of certificates can be verified “without processing personal data”. Although the certificate itself contains data such as name, date of birth, and vaccination / recovery dates, it is not visible when verified or stored in other states. Only the valid digital signature will be verified.