UK and EU agree digital vaccine pass reciprocity

Written by Sam Trendall on 1 November 2021 in News
News

Travellers can scan smartphone passes at border posts across the union and its one former member 

Credit: Jernej Furman/CC BY 2.0 

The UK and the European Union have agreed a system of reciprocal authentication for their respective platforms of digital vaccine status certification.

The Covid Pass offered via the NHS app is already accepted across many parts of the union as proof that the holder is fully vaccinated. But, until now, most checkpoints have not been able to scan the digital documents to verify their authenticity – which some holidaymakers have reported has seen them barred from entry to tourist attractions and hospitality venues.

The agreement means that both the Covid Pass and its EU equivalent, the Digital Covid Certificate (DCC), can be automatically authenticated by scanners used at borders and other settings across the UK, the 27 union member states, and 16 other nations and territories that have already made reciprocal vaccine-status recognition arrangements with the EU. This includes Morocco, Iceland, Israel, Norway, and Panama.


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As well as the Covid Pass, which is issued to English and Welsh citizens, the digital vaccination passes offered by devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Scotland and will also now be recognised throughout the EU and the other countries taking part in the DCC programme. Digital status documents issued by UK crown dependencies are also covered by the arrangement.

NHSX, which led the development of the Covid Pass, indicated that the agreement “is a recognition that both the UK and EU certification systems are robust and secure”. It added that patients’ vaccination data will not be shared as part of the agreement.

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, said: “The UK was one of the first countries to launch a digital pass solution, and the NHS Covid Pass is already recognised by over 80 countries and territories across the world. This news will add yet more countries to that list, simplifying international travel for Covid Pass users and enabling digital verification across Europe and beyond.”

The UK initially applied to join the DCC programme in late July, since when authorities in this country and the EU have worked on ensuring the necessary technical interoperability.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on sam.trendall@dodsgroup.com.

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