Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people with valid vaccination certificates can travel freely and safely within the EU.
Europeans were again bashed with another requirement after the Council of the EU approved new rules regarding the validity of vaccination certificates.
When the EU Commission found that two doses of the vaccine were insufficient to protect against the virus, it advised all European countries to agree on a uniform acceptance period for vaccination certificates while declaring that the certificates be valid for 270 days.
As far as third-country nationals in the EU are concerned, many countries outside the EU are already participating in the EU COVID Certificate program through the EU Gateway.
New rules on the validity of EU digital COVID Certificate
Travellers within the European Union will have to submit vaccination certificates that are valid for nine months starting on February 1, 2022.
Vaccination certificates must be accepted by the Member States for a period of nine months after the last dose of the primary vaccination. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a 270-day window starting with the day of the first and only injection. If it is a two-dose vaccine, it means 270 days from the second shot or the first and only shot after a person has recovered from a virus infection.
Member States should not impose different periods to be accepted for EU travel purposes. Certificates for booster doses are exempt from the standard acceptance period.
Vaccination certificates only used for travel within the EU are subject to these rules. When using the EU Digital COVID Certificate in a domestic context, Member States may apply different regulations, but they are encouraged to adhere to the EU-level acceptance period.
A person with an EU Digital COVID Certificate should not be subject to additional restrictions, such as quarantine or testing.
People who don’t have an EU Digital COVID Certificate should only be allowed to travel if they pass a pre or post-arrival test. Quarantine or self-isolation may also be required if they arrive from highly affected (dark red) regions.
Free movement restrictions must be non-discriminatory and proportionate. In principle, Member States should not deny entry to visitors from the other Member States.
Who is eligible for the EU digital COVID certificate?
All EU citizens and their immediate family members, also Non-EU citizens who legally reside in a Member State and possess the right to travel to the other Member States, can get the EU digital COVID certificate.
Recognition by the EU of COVID certificates issued by non-EU countries
Based on EU equivalence decisions, 35 non-EU countries (and territories) have joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate system. The EU accepts these 35 countries’ (and territories’) COVID certificates in the same way it accepts the EU Digital COVID Certificate. These 35 nations also recognise the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
Are unvaccinated citizens able to travel to another EU country?
EU citizens can travel more freely within the EU with the EU Digital COVID certificate. While free movement within the EU is a basic right, it is not a requirement. However, you may be subject to testing or quarantine if you don’t have a certificate. States have the authority to impose travel restrictions.
As a precautionary measure, the EU Digital COVID Certificate also includes test certificates and certificates for people who have recovered from COVID-19. In this way, everyone can utilise the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
Can non-EU citizens travel to the EU?
On February 22, 2022, the Council approved an updated framework, making it easier to travel to the EU. On March 1, 2022, Member States agreed to implement these changes.
Travellers from outside the EU who have received an EU or WHO-approved vaccine or have received a booster shot should be able to enter the EU under this policy if they received their final primary vaccination dose at least 14 days and no more than 270 days before arrival.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate or a non-EU COVID Certificate deemed equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate should be sufficient proof for those who recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days before travelling to the EU.
Nationals from countries or territories on the list of countries from which all travels are permitted and who have proof of negative PCR tests should be able to enter the EU. The Council regularly updates a list of such countries based on an assessment of the health situation. Regardless of vaccination status, countries on this list should be able to travel to the EU.
In addition, EU citizens and residents, as well as their family members and those with a compelling reason to visit Europe, should be able to do so in the future.