This is the latest news on 'Covid vaccine passport' plans for UK travellers

Friday, 5th February 2021, 12:24 pm
Updated Friday, 5th February 2021, 12:25 pm
This is the latest news on 'Covid vaccine passport' plans for UK travellers (Photo: Shutterstock)

Work has been started on a so-called ‘vaccine passport’ that could allow UK residents who have been inoculated against Covid-19 to take foreign holidays.

Though rumoured in recent months, The Times reports that a certification system is now being planned, with the Foreign Office, Department for Transport and Department of Health and Social Care working on options for travellers to countries that may have conditions of entry.

The news comes as Greece prepares to allow UK visitors into the country in May, provided they can show proof of vaccination against Covid-19. Currently, UK travellers are permitted to fly into Greece for essential travel only, where they must give evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result carried out in the 72 hour period before arriving.

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On arrival, travellers must undergo a paid coronavirus test, and then self isolate for seven days.

What is a Covid vaccine passport?

A vaccine passport refers to a document that will provide evidence that the holder has been inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccination.

No formal plans have been released on what format the vaccine passport will take, nor what it will look like, but there are indications that the passport will likely be something virtual you can show on your smartphone on an app.

Other formats of the vaccine passport are currently under development around the world, including one that will state whether you’ve had a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to travel.

A version of the passport called ‘CommonPass’ is currently undergoing testing by The World Economic Forum and the Common Projects Foundation. The CommonPass takes its form as a QR code accessible via a smartphone, which will be shown to local authorities at the destination of choice upon arrival.

Why are vaccine passports important?

Vaccine passports appear to be one of the leading factors in bringing an end to quarantine on arrival policies.

In an email reportedly seen by the New York Times, Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation said: “One key element vital for the restart of tourism is consistency and harmonisation of rules and protocols regarding international travel.

“Evidence of vaccination, for example, through the coordinated introduction of what may be called ‘health passports’ can offer this.

"They can also eliminate the need for quarantine on arrival, a policy which is also standing in the way of the return of international tourism."

Which countries have asked for proof of vaccination?

As well as Greece, several countries in Europe have already announced that they are looking into vaccine certificates to allow entry into the country.

There is no formal date announced about when UK travellers will be allowed to travel to these countries.

Some countries, like Hungary, have already introduced a plastic card for citizens to prove their immunity. Those holding such cards may enjoy additional benefits including staying out past national curfew.

Here is the list of the countries who have shown support for vaccine certificates so far:

  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden