Vaccine passports: What does EU’s travel pass mean for British holidaymakers?

EU’s Digital Covid Certificate launches 1 July

Helen Coffey,Cathy Adams
Thursday 01 July 2021 15:04 BST
'Complicated' policy to allow fully vaccinated to travel without quarantine, says Shapps

On 1 July, the European Commission launched a travel pass to allow European Union citizens and residents — vaccinated or not — to travel freely across the 27-nation region this summer. The pass, a type of vaccine passport, is to help facilitate travel between member states.

The free Digital Covid Certificate shows details of vaccinations, test results and proof of recovery from coronavirus.

All 27 EU member states plus Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein will offer and recognise the certificate.

EU citizens, as well as non-EU nationals legally living in the member states, can download the pass or access a paper copy.

So what does the roll-out mean for British holidaymakers? Here’s what we know so far.

When can Britons travel abroad?

International leisure travel was allowed to restart in the UK from 17 May, according to a “traffic light” system.

There are currently 27 destinations on the government’s “green list”, with returning travellers exempt from self-isolation on entry to the UK, and 56 on the “red list”, which mandates hotel quarantine.

Everything else is on the “amber list”, which includes most of Europe. Amber arrivals must quarantine for 10 days at home and take two post-arrival PCR tests.

Does that mean I can travel to Europe?

The EU travel pass only applies to citizens and residents of EU member states, a category which no longer covers the UK.

However, various EU countries, such as Greece, Malta, Spain, Portugal and France, have indicated that fully vaccinated British visitors are allowed in, with some adding that tourists can forgo testing requirements if they’ve been double jabbed.

Only certain destinations in Europe are on the UK’s green list and green watch list - the latter indicating that the territories are at risk from turning to amber.

The European destinations on the green list for UK travellers are: Madeira, Iceland, Malta, Gibraltar, the Balearic Islands and the Faroe Islands.

All green list travellers must provide a negative test result before departure for the UK (this can be a lateral flow/rapid antigen test) and take a PCR test within two days of arriving back into the UK. They do not need to quarantine.

How can I prove I’m vaccinated?

Most European countries have confirmed that travellers from England can prove their vaccination status via the NHS app.

It’s also possible to get a paper version by calling 119.

If you live in Scotland or Wales, the authorities will accept your respective NHS letter.

The NHS says that paper vaccine cards, handed to people when they get their jab, will not suffice for evidence - although Iceland has said it will accept these as proof.

Will I need to have had both vaccine doses?

This is a sticky point – although vaccination certification or “passport” schemes may well enable the restarting of tourism, they require the traveller to have received both jabs in order to qualify. Current predictions are that every adult in the UK should have been offered both vaccine doses by August.

Boris Johnson announces review into vaccine passports

More than 32 million people - 49 per cent of the population - in the UK have now had their second jab, and are considered fully vaccinated.

For this cohort, summer holidays may be more feasible if countries are demanding vaccination certification for seamless entry.

In nearly all cases, tourists must have had their second dose of the vaccine at least 14 days prior to travel.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in