Your guide to the vaccine passport and green certificate

How will the vaccine passport work, and what’s the green certificate? Find out all you need to know with this guide.

4 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has continued for over a year now, and people are more eager than ever to return to a life more like the one they lived before. Countries around the world are working to ensure that nearly all parts of daily life are safe for citizens—including travel. One of the most secure ways to do this is with documents that certify people’s health—for example, the vaccine passport, or the green certificate. But what exactly are these documents, and how can you get them? Read on to find out.

COVID-19 vaccine certificate

A vaccine passport or certificate is a document in digital or paper format that proves that the holder: 

  • was vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, or
  • has already contracted the virus and recovered from the disease by acquiring the antibodies necessary to fight it (provable through a serological test), or
  • got a negative result on the molecular or rapid antigen test and therefore doesn’t represent a risk of contagion to others.

This particular document is not exclusively connected to the vaccine administration, so it would be improper to call it a vaccine passport. It’s more like a certificate of good health. In any case, it would allow you to travel domestically and internationally. It would also eliminate or at least limit restrictions in public meeting places such as restaurants, cinemas, and sports facilities.

What is the EU’s digital green certificate?

The European Union is planning to create a centralized digital green certificate (the so-called digital green certificate or green pass) to allow citizens of member states to move freely between the EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland, without having to go through quarantine.

In order to get a green pass, you’ll have to be able to demonstrate that you were vaccinated. Alternatively, you could show that you’ve tested negative for COVID recently, but these passes would expire more quickly than those associated with vaccination.

The European green certificate will certify citizens’ health through a QR code and will be valid in all EU countries. You’ll be able to get one free of charge, via mobile and/or paper format in the language of the country where it’s issued, as well as in English. The document will include the following data: 

  • name
  • date of birth
  • date of issue
  • information relating to the vaccine, testing, or recovery from infection
  • unique ID number.

When and where can you get your green certificate?

Currently, there’s no date yet for when the digital green certificate will be implemented. That said, the European Commission is preparing to issue them, and planning to set up all the necessary digital infrastructure before summer 2021. The responsibility for issuing the certificate will lie with the national authorities, such as hospitals, testing centers, and other health authorities.

For more detailed information about the digital green certificate, check out the official website of the European Union.

The COVID-19 pass in Italy

On April 21, the Council of Ministers approved the “Reopening Decree.” Starting from April 26, this is aimed at easing the restrictive measures that are currently in place, and to prepare the country for the first reopenings.

This decree also paves the way for the introduction of COVID-19 green certificates, which will allow free movement between Italian regions, even if they are orange or red zones. Like the other passes described above, the Italian green certificate can be requested by anyone who can prove they were vaccinated, recovered from a COVID infection, or received a negative result from a molecular swab or rapid test in the last 48 hours.

How long is the COVID-19 pass valid?

The COVID-19 pass is valid for 6 months, starting from the date of the vaccination or the date the recovery is certified. Passes from tests are only valid for 48 hours.

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