Everything you need to know about the European Covid Certificate to travel this summer

The passport comes into force on Thursday and will exempt from quarantines in the EU

3 min
Image of what the European covid certificate could look like.

BarcelonaThe European Covid Certificate will come into force this Thursday to make travel within the European Union easier and safer. Although it will not be compulsory to have the document to travel within the Schengen area, having it will speed up travel: for example, exempting from quarantine and diagnostic tests on arrival in the country of destination. So far, Catalonia has issued more than one million certificates, most of them to certify the complete vaccination schedule.

Here we explain everything you need to know about the Covid Certificate to be able to travel this summer in Europe.

What is the Covid Certificate?

Also called digital passport, it is a QR code that gives information about the traveler's immune status: if you are vaccinated, if you are immune because you have passed the virus or if you have a recent negative diagnostic test that can prove that you are not contagious. It is obtained with a digital signature system to guarantee maximum privacy and avoid misuse of the data, and is issued in all the official languages of each EU member state and in English.

In Spain, each autonomous community is competent to deploy it. As the certificate has been formalised with the approval of an EU regulation, all member states are obliged to apply it. It can also be used with those non-EU countries with which bilateral agreements have been established.

What information does it provide?

The certificate consists of three types of forms (of course, you do not have to have all of them): the vaccination certificate, the recovery certificate and the negative diagnostic test certificate.

Those vaccinated can obtain a vaccination certificate, which details which of the vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) they have received and when they were administered. Each government can accept other vaccines not authorised in Europe but recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO). They are also sovereign in deciding whether to allow unrestricted entry to people with a single dose or whether they must have the full regimen.

The certificate of recovery indicates whether the person has overcome the disease but it is only valid if the person has passed it in the last six months and if the diagnostic test that certified the infection was a PCR. Those diagnosed with an antigen test (TAR) - in Catalonia, there are thousands of people- cannot obtain it. This decision is quite arbitrary because the European Commission endorses that member states authorise the entry of travelers who provide a negative TAR and has even published a list of tests "mutually recognised between states" that can be carried out in Catalonia.

Finally, the negative test certificate shows that the last PCR or antigen test that the person has done (between 48 and 72 hours before the trip) is negative. The test must be done in laboratories accredited by each government. In the case of Catalonia, the Department of Health has seventeen accredited centres that can be consulted on this page.

How can I get it?

The Covid Certificate is completely free. You can obtain it by accessing the Department of Health's website at lamevasalut.gencat.cat, in the section "Vaccines and EU covid certificate", where you can select one of the three documents. In a few minutes the QR will appear, which can be downloaded to save it in the device you want (mobile or any other) or even print it on paper. You can also obtain the certificates in person at the primary care centres (CAP) and the vaccination certificate can also be requested at the vaccination centre right after receiving the dose.

How does it work?

In the European destination country, the traveller's QR code is scanned to verify the authenticity of the QR code. If the person meets the criteria, he/she can continue the trip. If the person does not have a certificate, he/she can travel, but the admission process will be slower and the destination countries may apply additional measures and controls, such as tests and quarantines.

Does it expire?

Each certificate has a certain validity, which is indicated on the document itself. In general, the vaccination certificate is valid for one year from the date of the last dose administered and the recovery certificate expires six months after the infection has passed. Diagnostic tests also have a validity period, which is usually very short: 48 hours in the case of antigen tests and 72 hours in the case of PCRs.

What happens if I have not been vaccinated or passed the covid?

These people will have to pay for a diagnostic test, PCR or antigen test, out of their own pocket if they want to travel within the EU. In addition, it could be that some states establish more restrictive measures of access.

Where can I solve my doubts?

The European Commission, the Spanish government and the Catalan Government will provide more information as the certificate is implemented. For the time being, any queries related to obtaining the certificates should be sent to the Salut Respon telephone number, 061.