The Digital COVID Certificate

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or recovery is required in many areas of life. Valid throughout the EU, the Digital COVID Certificate enables people to simply and reliably prove that they are vaccinated. People can store the proof on their smartphone via an app. This article provides information about the advantages of the EU Digital COVID Certificate, how it can be obtained and how it can be used during everyday life.

At a glance

  • The EU Digital COVID Certificate is valid throughout the EU as proof that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • It complements other forms of certification and is not compulsory. The yellow certificate of vaccination continues to be valid but is increasingly no longer accepted as proof.
  • The EU Digital COVID Certificate makes traveling and access to restaurants, cafés and other public places easier.
  • A QR code (the certificate of vaccination) is sent to the user’s mobile device via a COVID-19 app.
  • Medical practices, vaccination centers and pharmacies, among other institutions, can issue these certificates.
  • Certificates of recovery from a coronavirus infection and negative test results can also be displayed in the COVID-19 apps.
Hand holding a smartphone and passport. A digital certificate of vaccination can be seen on the smartphone screen. A suitcase can be seen in the background.

What is the EU Digital COVID Certificate?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate enables people to prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The certificate of vaccination (QR code) is important for this proof. Anyone who wishes to use this on a mobile device requires the CovPass app or the corona alert app. Both COVID-19 apps can be downloaded and used free of charge. People who do not have a smartphone or tablet or who are unable to use the app can present the certificate of vaccination in hard copy.

It is also useful to keep a copy of the printed vaccination certificate. This enables you to scan the QR code again if you lose or change your smartphone.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate not only provides proof of the vaccinations for primary immunization but also of booster vaccinations.

Anyone who has recovered from a COVID-19 infection or has tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus can also record this in the COVID-19 apps.

You can also use these apps to manage family vaccination records if necessary.

Is the use mandatory?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate is a voluntary additional service. You can decide if you wish to use it. The yellow certificate of vaccination continues to be valid but it should be noted that many places no longer recognize it as proof of COVID-19 vaccination. This is because the EU Digital COVID Certificate is harder to forge and easier to verify. 

Important: The EU Digital COVID Certificate should not be confused with the electronic certificate of vaccination. The EU Digital COVID Certificate currently only proves you are protected against COVID-19. The electronic certificate of vaccination, on the other hand, is part of the electronic patient record (ePA) and a digital version of the entire yellow certificate of vaccination.

What does the EU Digital COVID Certificate allow you to do?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate makes it easier to travel to other EU countries and access businesses, restaurants, cafés, bars or cultural events for example. It is user-friendly and easy to verify.

Important: The EU Digital COVID Certificate is not a travel document. Please check the regulations in place at your destination before traveling.

There is an overall summary of the corona measures and travel restrictions in place in the EU countries at the official website of the EU.

How do people get the EU Digital COVID Certificate?

After each vaccination, the medical practice or vaccination center can print out the certificate of vaccination as a QR code and give it to you. Company doctors and mobile vaccination teams can also issue certificates of vaccination. 

You will not always receive the certificate of vaccination directly. In such cases, you must ask a pharmacy to issue it. Your yellow certificate of vaccination and personal identification card or passport are required to this end. To ensure that the certificate of vaccination has not been forged, the pharmacy will check if the batch shown on the label was actually used for vaccinations on the date indicated.

How does mobile usage work?

To save the EU Digital COVID Certificate on a smartphone or tablet, you first need to download and install the CovPass app or the corona alert app. The apps are free to download and use. You can then scan the certificate of vaccination (QR code) with the app.

How is the data on the EU Digital COVID Certificate stored?

The place that administers the vaccination documents this according to the applicable regulations. When the QR code is created, the data recorded is sent to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for signing off and then deleted immediately. This prevents the falsification of certificates.

The data needed for the proof of vaccination are stored exclusively on the user’s device: the QR code contains the first name, last name, date of birth and information on the vaccination, just as shown in the yellow certificate of vaccination. This includes, for example, the time and place of vaccination, the vaccine used and its batch number.

This data is fully deleted upon removal of the CovPass app or corona alert app.

How is the EU Digital COVID Certificate verified?

The EU Digital COVID Certificate is verified by scanning the certificate of vaccination (the QR code) with a special verification app. The certificate of vaccination can be presented in two ways: in hard copy or as a mobile version. 

When the QR code is scanned, the first name, last name, date of birth and vaccination status are displayed. No data is stored. Photographic identification must also be provided to verify that the certificate of vaccination belongs to the person present.

For how long is the EU Digital COVID Certificate valid?

Providing it evidences the primary immunization status, the certificate of vaccination is valid for 9 months from its date of issue.

People are classed as having primary immunization if they have received two COVID-19 vaccinations, irrespective of the vaccine type. For people who have recovered from COVID-19, a single dose of an mRNA vaccine suffices for primary immunization.

For the EU Digital COVID Certificate to remain valid beyond this period, a booster is required.

Can other COVID-19 certificates be stored in the apps?

The apps for documenting the EU Digital COVID Certificate can also display certificates of recovery from a COVID-19 infection and negative COVID-19 test results. The corona alert app can also be used to create a rapid test profile with personal data in the form of a QR code. Test centers without their own booking system and pre-registration can scan the code to simplify the registration process.

Where can I find further information about the EU Digital COVID Certificate?

Further information about the EU Digital COVID Certificates, the use of the CovPass app and the use of the corona alert app can be found on the Robert Koch Institute websites.

Important questions and answers about the EU Digital COVID Certificate can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit).

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