The Commission has adopted rules relating to the EU Digital COVID Certificate, establishing a binding acceptance period of 9 months (precisely 270 days) of vaccination certificates for the purposes of intra-EU travel. A clear and uniform acceptance period for vaccination certificates will guarantee that travel measures continue to be coordinated, as called for by the European Council following its latest meeting of 16 December 2021. The new rules will ensure restrictions are based on the best available scientific evidence as well as objective criteria. Continued coordination is essential for the functioning of the Single Market and it will provide clarity for EU citizens in the exercise of their right to free movement.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a success story of the EU. The Certificate continues to facilitate safe travel for citizens across the European Union during these times of the pandemic. So far, 807 million certificates were issued in the EU. The EU Digital COVID Certificate has set a global standard: by now 60 countries and territories across five continents have joined the system.
The new rules for intra-EU travel harmonise the different rules across Member States. This validity period takes into account the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, according to which booster doses are recommended at the latest six months after the completion of the first vaccination cycle. The Certificate will remain valid for a grace period of an additional three months beyond those six months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and citizens will have access to booster doses.
The new rules on the acceptance period of vaccination certificates apply for the purposes of travel. When introducing different rules to use the certificates at national level, Member States are encouraged to align them to these new rules to provide certainty for travellers and reduce disruptions.
In addition, today the Commission has also adapted the rules for the encoding of vaccination certificates. This is necessary to ensure that vaccination certificates showing completion of the primary series can always be distinguished from vaccination certificates issued following a booster dose.
Boosters will be recorded as follows:
- 3/3 for a booster dose following a primary 2-dose vaccination series.
- 2/1 for a booster dose following a single-dose vaccination or a one dose of a 2-dose vaccine administered to a recovered person.
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “A harmonised validity period for EU Digital COVID Certificate is a necessity for safe free movement and EU level coordination. The strength and success of this invaluable tool for citizens and business lies in its coherent use across the EU. What is needed now is to ensure that booster campaigns proceed as quickly as possible, that as many citizens are protected by an additional dose and that our certificates remain a key tool for travel and protection of public health.”
Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: “The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a success story. We should keep it that way and adjust to changing circumstances and new knowledge. Unilateral measures in the Member States would bring us back to the fragmentation and uncertainties we have seen last spring. The acceptance period of nine months for vaccination certificates will give citizens and businesses the certainty they need when planning their travels with confidence. It’s now up to the Member States to ensure boosters will be rolled out swiftly to protect our health and ensure safe travelling.”
Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “The EU Digital COVID certificate has become a global standard. By reflecting the latest scientific insights on boosters, the certificate remains an essential tool to combat the different waves of the pandemic. Together with the large-scale production and supply of vaccines, the certificate will help Member States accelerate the roll-out of boosters – a necessity to protect public health, while preserving the free movement of our citizens.”