Vaccine passports: how will EU Covid jab travel certificates work, will UK residents be eligible - and when could they be approved?

European Union approves plans for coronavirus vaccine certificates for travel ahead of summer holiday season

Summer holidays abroad could become a reality for UK residents under new Covid vaccine passports plans put forward by the European Union.

The EU has set out a proposal for coronavirus vaccine certificates for travel to allow for safe and free movement across the continent.

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UK prime minister Boris Johnson recently said that documents providing proof that someone has received a Covid jab “raise all sorts of issues”.

Summer holidays abroad could become a reality for Brits under new Covid vaccine passports plans put forward by the European Union. (Pic: Shutterstock)

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Here’s what we know.

What are vaccine passports?

Vaccine passports have long been talked about since the start of the coronavirus pandemic as a way for foreign travel to take place once more.

Various restrictions on movement between countries have been in place since the virus outbreak to limit the spread of the deadly disease.

It has come at a financial cost to business and the travel industry, who have looked at and campaigned for Covid-secure measures to reopen the sector.

A type of vaccine passport, or certified document, would prove a person has either had a coronavirus jab, had a negative test result or recovered from the disease.

How will vaccine passports work?

The EU’s plan for Digital Green Certificates will be valid in its member states - countries part of the union - as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.

It is hoped that the documentations will allow people who meet the specific criteria to move freely with a degree of safety around Europe during the pandemic.

The certificate will be issued in digital format, under the proposals, which will make it easy to display on smartphones, devices, or paper and scan at checkpoints.

Covid vaccines that have been approved by the European Medicines Agency will automatically be recognised, which includes the AstraZeneca / Oxford, Moderna and Janssen jabs.

Others like Russia’s Sputnik V or China’s Sinovac will be assessed at the time of application.

What are the issues around vaccine passports?

The EU has moved to allay concerns around data protection and misuse while fears it could discriminate against people who have not had or been offered a vaccine yet have also been raised.

Will Brits be eligible for vaccine passports?

UK holidaymakers wishing to travel to Europe can apply for a certificate from the specific country they intend to visit, said EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

Brits will not automatically be eligible for an EU Covid travel certificate and applications will depend on certain factors such as virus infection rates in the UK and abroad.

The EU is yet to confirm when or how people can obtain a certificate, with further discussions expected to take place at a summit of the bloc’s leaders in the week commencing 22 March.

The move by the EU will put pressure on the UK government to come up with their own scheme and for the different passports to be made compatible with one another.

When will foreign holidays resume?

Under Mr Johnson’s roadmap out of a third national lockdown, which sees a gradual relaxing of Covid restrictions, international travel could resume from 17 May at the earliest.

The government’s Global Travel Taskforce will provide a report on 12 April detailing recommendations for how and when foreign holidays could resume for UK citizens.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove is heading up a review into a form of Covid status certificates.

It is understood Mr Gove is considering the possibility of the NHS coronavirus app featuring a digital health passport, which would carry details of vaccinations and negative test results.