The European Union held to its schedule and launched a COVID-19 digital certificate, essentially ‘vaccine passports’ for travelers moving between nations throughout the EU.
According to the BBC, the digital certificate allows citizens across the E.U. to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, recently tested negative for the virus, and/or recently recovered from COVID-19.
The system is now available in and recognized by all 27 E.U. member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. It’s also being utilized in four additional nations: Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein.
The E.U. commission overseeing the program noted that almost all E.U. Member States are now able to issue and verify these COVID ‘vaccine passports,’ according to Tech Crunch. Even with a six-week phase-in period commencing to get the program up and running, more than 200 million certificates have already been created for E.U. citizens who have onboarded.
Euronews’ coverage, which had more details on the program, noted that the certificate is in the form of a QR code that can be either be digitally presented on a phone or on an actual paper certificate.
“The E.U. is in talks with several other countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, over mutual recognition and operation of COVID-related documents,” that story noted.
It added that individual E.U. nations are obliged to accept vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which include the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
They can also—though aren’t technically required to—admit people vaccinated with some of the vaccines authorized in individual European nations, notably the Russian Sputnik V vaccine used in Hungary. Other World Health Organization-accepted vaccines, most notably the Sinopharm vaccine developed in China, may also be included.
While the certificate is intended to allow people to travel without needing additional tests or quarantine procedures upon entering an E.U. nation, it is still possible for a member state to introduce restrictions if there are concerns about case numbers in a nation that a traveler is coming from or entering.