Covid vaccine certificates: What are they and how can I get one?

BRITS are scrambling to get abroad after it was announced those who are double-jabbed won't need to quarantine from amber-list countries.

Covid-status certificates prove you’ve had both your vaccines and may be crucial if you want a summer holiday.

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They are easy to get – but don't leave it to the last minute, as they can take a while to come through.

As Brits are discovering, travel abroad is possible but there are a set of requirements making it tricky.

Covid-status is one of them for most countries, proven by either a jab certificate or negative test.

It also goes by "Covid passport" – however, officials do not call it this because it's not a free pass to travel across the globe.

Find out more on a Covid-status certificate here.

What is a Covid-status certificate?

A Covid-status certificate is either proof you do not have Covid with a negative test, or proof of full vaccination.

A certificate called an NHS COVID Pass reveals whether you have been fully vaccinated in the most reliable way.

It is a QR code – similar to those you use when entering into a pub, bar or restaurant.

You can get one if you had a second vaccine dose at least two weeks ago, were vaccinated in England, and are over 16.

It shows that you have had both of your coronavirus vaccines, and therefore have the maximum protection against the virus.

This tells others – such as officials in other countries – you are unlikely to be carrying the virus and pose a threat to others.

Getting an NHS COVID Pass can take a few days, possibly longer, because sometimes there may be extra checks. So it is vital to leave plenty of time.

People in Wales will soon be able to get Covid-status vaccines through a website not yet available. 

People living in Scotland can request a vaccine certificate from the NHS inform website.

Northern Ireland is still working on a certificate which is hoped to become available by July.

Travel checklist

Before you travel, the Government says you must:

  • Check the rules for the country or territory you’re going to.
  • Find out what you need to do when you return to England.
  • Book any tests or quarantine hotel packages you need.

When will you need one?

At the moment, these certificates are not needed in the UK to get into places, such as pubs, theatres, cinemas or shops.

You may need Covid-status certification to enter another country, including green-list nations, with differing rules everywhere. 

For example France requests that Brits have proof of full vaccination and proof of a negative Covid test, while Greece only needs the former. 

Check the entry requirements for your destination country on the GOV.UK foreign travel advice pages as well as the country's own website.

There may also be other requirements, such as quarantine once you get there. 

Some nations will not accept the NHS COVID Pass as proof of full vaccination. There is currently not a universal “Covid passport”.

Check if the country you are travelling to accepts QR code as proof of vaccination, and if not, what you need to enter. 

You will also need a Covid-status certificate if you are part of a major event trial.

The Events Research Programme (ERP) is a scientific project looking at whether big crowds can safely get together for sports, gigs and more.

How do you get a Covid-status certificate?

A digital vaccination certificate

You can access your NHS COVID Pass through the free NHS App on either your phone or tablet.

Download the app by typing in ‘NHS’ into the search bar of your iOS ‘App store’ or Android ‘Play Store’ and clicking install.

The one to download is called ‘NHS’. Be wary there are other NHS apps that are for other services. 

Details such as your email address and postcode will be needed to get your certificate. 

The certificate will have a barcode that can also be stored in your Google wallet.

You have to be registered with a GP in England to use the NHS App. However, you don’t need to contact your GP unless your certification is not showing.

If this happens, you’ll need to ask your GP for your full detailed medical record. 

A printed vaccination certificate

If you don’t want your certificate in a digital format, you can also have it on paper.

To print it yourself, you’ll need to register for an NHS login if you do not have one already, which may take some time to process.

Once you have a login, you can view your Covid status and then download and print it as a PDF document.

The document will contain a barcode. 

You can also request an NHS Covid Pass via letter on the NHS website, or by calling 119.

It may take a few days for the certificate to reach you this way.

A negative test

You will need a negative test to go on holiday. Even if the country you are headed to does not require it, entry back into the UK does.

The Polymerase Chain Reaction tests (PCR tests) are seen as the "gold standard" when it comes to testing and are different to the lateral flow tests available for free from the NHS.

You will have to pay for the PCR tests if you want to use them for travel with some places charging more than £100.

You should not use the free NHS testing service to test yourself before a holiday as these tests are for people with Covid symptoms. The government has asked that you instead arrange a private test.

Read more here about where to get a PCR test before travel, and before returning to the UK.

Usually a printed document or email/text message with your result is sufficient to prove you are negative at the airport.

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