The European Commission (EC) said that it had adopted on December 21 rules relating to the EU Digital Covid Certificate, establishing a binding acceptance period of nine months (precisely 270 days) of vaccination certificates for the purposes of intra-EU travel.
To allow for sufficient time for technical implementation of the acceptance period and for member states’ booster vaccination campaigns, these new rules should apply from February 1 2022, the EC said.
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 December 16, the Commission said.
“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 statement said.
“The EU Digital Covid Certificate is a success story of the EU,” it said.
The Commission said that the certificate continues to facilitate safe travel for citizens across the EU during these times of the pandemic.
So far, 807 million certificates have been 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.
The EC said that the 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.
“Member states should immediately take all necessary steps to ensure access to vaccination for those population groups whose previously issued vaccination certificates approach the limit of the standard acceptance period,” the EC said.
“As of yet, no standard acceptance period will apply to certificates issued following the administration of booster doses, given that sufficient data regarding the period of protection is not yet available.”
The acceptance period will not be encoded in the certificate itself. Instead, the mobile applications used to verify the EU Digital Covid Certificates will be adjusted: If the date of vaccination is longer than 270 days ago, the mobile application used for verification will indicate the certificate as expired.
In addition, on Deccember 21 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 two-dose vaccination series, and “2/1” for a booster dose following a single-dose vaccination or a one dose of a two-dose vaccine administered to a recovered person.
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