EU unveils proposal for a digital green certificate

Post COVID Pandemic Travel


The European Commission has presented a proposal for a digital green certificate to facilitate free movement within the EU.

Speaking at a press conference, the president of the commission Ursula von der Leyen introduced plans for the digital health passport, which would allow “free and safe movement in the EU” and “a common path to gradual, safe and lasting reopening”.

The digital green certificates will be free of charge, bilingual and valid in all EU Member States, allowing every EU citizen or third-country national legally staying or residing in the EU to be exempt from quarantine restrictions. The certificate will also be open to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The document will provide proof that an individual has been vaccinated against Covid-19, recovered from the virus or received a negative test result, preventing discrimination against individuals who are not vaccinated. The Commission states that it would “expect [Member States] to take this proof of people’s Covid-19 status into account to facilitate travel” and that “being in possession of a certificate is not a prerequisite of exercising the right to free movement or other fundamental rights”.

Citizens can also request a paper alternative, with both digital and paper versions featuring a QR code containing essential information and a digital seal to “make sure the certificate is authentic”.

National authorities such as hospitals, test centres and health authorities will be tasked with issuing the certificate. In the case that a country still wishes to put in place a requirement to quarantine or test holders of the certificate, the member state must explain the reasons for such measures to the Commission and all other member states.

The digital green certificate will contain data such as name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information about vaccine/test/recovery and a QR code with a digital signature to ensure security and authenticity. This will be scanned and verified by the member states – the European Commission will work with countries to develop software for authorities to check the QR codes.

The European Commission will create a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU. The personal data will be secure and the information “cannot be retained by visited countries”.