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What happened to the EU travel rule regarding Covid booster doses?

We look back at the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate scheme and whether health passes are still in place in France

The EU introduced a Digital Covid Certificate in July 2021 Pic: Sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

Reader question: Is the EU rule that travellers must have had a Covid vaccination in the past nine months to enter an EU country still in place?

There was confusion around this EU ruling when it was introduced in February 2022 and the confusion continues today. 

The EU introduced a Digital Covid Certificate in July 2021. It was essentially a system by which countries of the EU could mutually recognise Covid vaccination or test certificates issued in any of the different countries. 

For example, if you got a Covid test in France, airport staff in Hungary would be able to scan the QR code on it to see if it was valid.

In February of this year the EU introduced a policy whereby a full course of Covid vaccination would only remain valid for nine months.

For example, if you were issued with a vaccination certificate after receiving two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, this certificate would remain valid as part of the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate scheme for the next nine months. 

After that, the person would need a booster dose in order for their certificate to remain valid. There was no expiry date on the validity of booster doses. 

So, if you have had a Covid booster dose, then this rule, which is still in place where countries choose to enforce it, is of no importance to you. 

France scraps Covid passes

In addition to this, France scrapped its Covid health and vaccine pass schemes on August 1. 

This means that proof of a person’s vaccine status or proof of a negative Covid test will not be asked for when entering France. 

This may be different for other EU countries and you should check before travelling. Spain, for example, still maintains the nine-months rule on jabs and boosters, though you can also enter with a negative test.

The French government did retain the right to introduce what it is calling a certificat sanitaire de voyage – this just means the right to, if the Covid situation requires it, ask travellers aged 12 and over to have proof of a negative Covid test in order to enter France, regardless of their vaccine status, if they are coming from a country where a new Covid variant is circulating.

Read more: Travel, border controls: Five Q&As about France’s new Covid bill

This possibility will remain in place until March 31, 2023. 

The government will only trigger this option if it feels that the Covid situation is bad enough to warrant it. 

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