European health travel pass: People in France can now access it

The European EU Digital Covid Certificate will be standardised EU-wide from July 1, and is intended to make travel easier within the EU. We explain how this will work

27 June 2021
EU Digital COVID Certificate with the QR code on the screen of a mobile phone over a surgical mask and a passport.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate will come into use from July 1 across Member States Pic: Rarrarorro / Shutterstock

By Hannah Thompson

The EU's Digital Covid Certificate, now in operation within France, launches EU-wide on Thursday (July 1).

This means all EU Covid apps and vaccination or test certificates will then show a standard QR code which officials will be able to scan across the Schengen area to check a traveller's Covid status.

Called Certificat Covid numérique UE in French, the standardised system will show that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, has received a negative test result, or has recovered from Covid-19.

Member states have agreed on a common design, format and QR codes to enable it to be used across the bloc.

What is the European health pass for? 

It is intended to help make travel throughout the EU easier. Depending on entry rules in countries, holders may be able to avoid measures such as self-isolation and quarantine when arriving in or departing from countries within the EU. It is also meant to encourage countries to lift restrictions in a coordinated and mutually coherent way.

When does it become available?

Thursday, July 1, 2021. However there will be a ‘phase-in’ period from July 1 to August 12 during which the European Commission states that if a certain member state is not yet ready to issue the new certificate to its citizens other formats of proof can still be used instead in other member states. This is not expected to concern France.

Who can use it? 

Everyone who has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine can get a certificate.

Is it mandatory if you are travelling within the EU from July 1? 

No, its use is optional. But users may be able to avoid certain Covid restrictions.

What does the certificate allow you to do (that you cannot do without one)?

It means that the user will be exempt from added Covid travel restrictions that non-holders will need to comply with, such as quarantine. 

The EU has advised member states not to impose extra health restrictions on pass holders except if they are “necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health”.

People who are not yet vaccinated will still have a right to free movement within the EU, but will have to comply with any Covid-19 health restrictions or rules still in place.

Read more: EU Covid health pass approved for travel use from July 1

Do I have to pay for it? 

No, it is free to download and use.

How do I get one?

National authorities are in charge of issuing the certificates in their respective countries.

In France, you will be able to go to the Assurance maladie website and head to the vaccination section, at attestation-vaccin.ameli.fr/attestation

You will then be requested to log in to the FranceConnect platform. This will allow you to log in to the site using an existing account (if you have one) such as an account for your taxes, or for l’Assurance maladie.

You can then apply for your certificate by entering your details and Covid-19 vaccination status.

The certificate is not yet available, but will be after July 1.

How is the certificate issued? 

You will receive a digital ‘certificate’ page, once your registration has gone through. This will include a personalised QR code that will act as your pass.

You can also keep the QR code on the TousAntiCovid app, by scanning the QR code on the certificate from within the app.

Is it only available digitally?

No, a hard paper copy is also available. It can be used in the same way as the digital version. Once you have successfully registered for your certificate, you can choose to print it out on paper.

If you choose the paper option, l’Assurance maladie recommends that you fold the paper into four to create your own ‘booklet’, and to only show the QR code on the paper “as proof” of your certificate when asked.

This will enable the “confidentiality of your health data” to remain hidden, but the QR code can still be used as normal.

What data does the certificate hold on me? 

It includes your identity, your date of birth, the vaccinations received, the number of doses, and the date of injection.

Is the data secure?

The EU offers the following guarantees on the use of personal data.

  • The EU Digital COVID Certificate contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect it against falsification. 
  • When the certificate is checked, the QR code is scanned and the signature verified.
  • Each issuing body (e.g. a hospital, a test centre, a health authority) has its own digital signature key. All of these are stored in a secure database in each country.
  • The European Commission has built a gateway through which all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU. 

The personal data of the certificate holder does not pass through the gateway, as this is not necessary to verify the digital signature. 

The European Commission also helped Member States to develop national software and apps to issue, store and verify certificates and supported them in the necessary tests to on-board the gateway.”

The data will not be retained by countries you are visiting. 

 

Is it the same as the French ‘health pass’ used inside France?

It was not the same prior to June 24; since then France's systems, commonly referred to as pass sanitaire, are meant to be compatible with the EU system of QR codes that are recognisable across the bloc.

Can I use the French health pass to travel across borders within the EU too?

A stated above, from June 24, the French health pass QR codes are said to have been standardised so they will be readable across the EU.

As we previously reported, if you have an older certificate, you will need to have it updated. It was previously stated by Digital Minister Cédric O that certificates in the TousAntiCovid app would update automatically, however health ministry officials at the Direction générale de la santé (DGS) have now told FranceInfo a 'converter' will be available in the app from the end of the week starting June 28. Illustrations provided for the press show that EU format certificates presented on the app are clearly labelled as such and marked with the EU flag. 

The DGS confirmed that people fully vaccinated since June 24 would not need to do anything, as “France converted all the QR codes into a European format” from that date.

What about if I have had Covid-19 recently?

You can also get hold of a European-format certificat de rétablissement (certificate of rehabilitation), which is valid throughout the EU, to show that you have had Covid and fully recovered.

The DGS confirmed that from July 5, you will be able to obtain this via the website sidep.gouv.fr.

Test results showing negative Covid status are also now issued in an EU-readable format, and can also be used to facilitate the crossing of borders.

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