Several E.U. Countries Launch Digital COVID Certificates for Travelers

·3 min read

This week, seven countries in Europe—Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Poland—launched the first digital Digital Green Certificates for travelers, including vaccinated Americans. The E.U. is calling the early rollout a broader tourism opening's “warm-up phase,” during which member states have the option to voluntarily begin their certification program before it becomes available in all 27 E.U. countries on July 1. The optional system is for use by residents and visitors alike.

Last month, the European Union Commission announced a plan for allowing vaccinated non-Europeans to travel to the bloc this summer, news that many Americans had been long waiting for. Crucial to this plan was the use of the standardized health pass, which certifies traveler's vaccination status, recent recovery from COVID-19, and/or negative coronavirus test results, for entry into any member state.

“EU citizens are looking forward to traveling again, and they want to do so safely," said E.U. Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides in a June 1 press conference. "Having an E.U. certificate is a crucial step on the way.”

For security and ease of use throughout the region, the certificate is available in digital and printed formats, and in both English and the issuing country's official language, with a scannable QR code that can be read by any member state. Currently, the pass can be issued to vaccinated residents in the seven countries mentioned above; and though travelers are said to be eligible for them, it is not yet clear exactly how travelers can apply for and receive one. More details are expected to come this month, ahead of the wider July 1 launch. “National authorities are in charge of issuing the certificate,” the E.U. Commission says on its website. “It could, for example, be issued by test centres or health authorities, or directly via an eHealth portal.”

As part of the preview of these first certificates, the E.U. Commission also noted that the goal is for anyone who meets one of the certificate's criteria—14 days after their final dose of the vaccine, a recovery from COVID, or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours—to be able to move freely throughout the region, with no further testing or quarantines required. Ultimately, though, member states may choose not to take this approach. The Times reports that officials in the U.S. and the E.U. are also in ongoing talks aiming to make a vaccine certificate acceptable throughout both regions.

A gorgeous view from the top of St Jacques Tower, which is at the very center of the city
A gorgeous view from the top of St Jacques Tower, which is at the very center of the city

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This news follows recent statements from other European officials about the reopening of borders for tourism. In April, president Emmanuel Macron of France said that the country will be reopening to Americans starting June 9. Other nations are already open: On April 19, Greece began allowing American travelers (and those from a small handful of other countries, including the U.K.) to visit with proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours beforehand. Croatia, another E.U. member, is also fully open to vaccinated Americans as well as those who were previously infected, those who show a negative test taken within 48 hours beforehand, or those who take a test upon arrival and receive a negative result. Other European, but non-E.U. nations, like Georgia and Montenegro, are also welcoming vaccinated international visitors.

While the news is exciting for fully vaccinated Americans looking to get back out there and travel to Europe this summer, it also comes as many European countries are just emerging from third waves of coronavirus outbreaks that brought lockdowns. France, for example, will have a curfew in place until June 30, and Italy's will be effective until June 21.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date. We’re reporting on how COVID-19 impacts travel on a daily basis. Find our latest coronavirus coverage here, or visit our complete guide to COVID-19 and travel.

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler