European Commission adopts binding nine-month acceptance period for COVID19 vaccination certificates

The European Commission has adopted rules on the EU’s COVID digital certificate, establishing a binding acceptance period of 9 months (more precisely 270 days) vaccination certificates for intra-EU travel.

A clear and uniform acceptance period for vaccination certificates will ensure that travel measures continue to be coordinated, as requested by the European Council following its last meeting on December 16, 2021. The new rules will ensure that the restrictions are based on the best scientific evidence available, as well as objective criteria. Continuous coordination is essential for the functioning of the single market and it will allow EU citizens to exercise their right to free movement more clearly.

The certificate continues to make it easier for citizens to travel safely across the European Union in these times of a pandemic. Until now, 807 million certificates were issued in the EU. The EU’s COVID digital certificate has set a global standard: to date, 60 countries and territories from five continents have joined the system.

The new rules for intra-EU travel harmonize the different rules between member states. This validity period takes into account the guidelines of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, according to which booster doses are recommended no later than six months after the end of the first cycle of vaccination. The certificate will remain valid for an additional three-month grace period beyond those six months to ensure that national immunization campaigns can adapt and citizens have access to booster doses.

The new rules on the period of acceptance of vaccination certificates apply for travel purposes. When introducing different rules for the use of certificates at national level, Member States are encouraged to align them with these new rules in order to ensure the safety of travelers and reduce disruption.

In addition, today the Commission has also adapted the encoding rules vaccination certificates. This is necessary to ensure that vaccination certificates indicating completion of the primary series can always be distinguished from vaccination certificates issued after a booster dose.

Boosters will be saved as follows:

  • 3/3 for a booster dose after a 2-dose primary vaccination.
  • 2/1 for a booster dose after a single dose vaccination or a dose of a 2 dose vaccine given to a recovered person.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “A harmonized validity period for the EU digital COVID certificate is a necessity for safe free movement and coordination at EU level. The strength and success of this invaluable tool for citizens and businesses lies in its consistent use across the EU. What is needed now is to ensure that the recall campaigns run as quickly as possible, that as many citizens as possible are protected by an extra dose and that our certificates remain a key tool for travel and security. protection of public health.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: “The EU’s digital COVID certificate is a success. We must continue to do so and adapt to changing circumstances and new knowledge. Unilateral action in Member States would bring us back to the fragmentation and uncertainties we experienced last spring. The nine-month acceptance deadline for vaccination certificates will give citizens and businesses the certainty they need to plan their trips with confidence. It is now up to Member States to ensure that boosters are deployed quickly to protect our health and ensure safe travel. ”

Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, noted: “The EU Digital COVID certificate has become a global standard. By reflecting the latest scientific knowledge on boosters, the certificate remains an essential tool to fight against the different waves of the pandemic. Along with the large-scale production and supply of vaccines, the certificate will help member states speed up the roll-out of booster shots – a necessity to protect public health, while preserving the free movement of our citizens. “

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European Commission Press Service, Brussels.

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