Europe Works towards International Vaccine Certificate Standards
EU Vaccine Certificate Standards
Vaccine certificate standards are a key issue for countries around the world. The EU adopted the EU Digital COVID Certificate in June 2021 and has since issued more than 591 million EU Digital COVID Certificates to member states. More than 43 countries connect to the EU Digital COVID Certificate. This includes the 27 member states. It also includes 3 countries in the EEA, Switzerland, and an additional 12 countries and territories.
In addition, more than 60 countries have expressed interest and the EU is pursuing discussions with 28 of these countries.
Countries within the EU as well as travelers in the region have expressed their satisfaction in using the certificate for travel. 20 member-states have adopted the certificates for domestic purposes.
The uniformity of the EU Digital COVID Certificate has set a model for other countries that wish to develop vaccine certificates for travel.
Common Vaccine Certificate Standards
The EU began working on its digital vaccine system months before its launch. The commission engaged with key stakeholders to develop an interoperable, trustworthy, and privacy-protecting vaccination system. A key element is that it could fit with a country’s existing system.
The EU system’s success calls for companies developing certificates to pay attention to the standards and the approach the EU took in developing its system.
In a comment highlighting the success of the EU vaccination verification system, Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton commented, “In record time, the European Union has set up a digital, secure and interoperable COVID certificate system. This has been a key driver for the recovery of the tourism ecosystem and its many small and family-owned businesses across Europe. Beyond that, the EU system is adopted by countries around the world, demonstrating how Europe can set global standards through decisive and coordinated action.”
Some of the standards that informed the development of the EU Digital COVID Certificate include:
- Developing a simple system that can accommodate paper and digital certificates.
- Flexibility and compatibility with existing national solutions.
- Thorough protection of personal data.
- Step-wise approach upon agreement by member states.
Based on the framework, vaccine certificates feature:
- Minimum datasets (the certificates include only the essential information).
- A unique vaccination certificate identifier that is globally unique and verifiable.
- A trust framework through which the validity of a vaccine certificate can be established.
These guidelines have also provided a framework for countries to develop vaccine certificates compatible with the EU system.
The WHO has also adopted similar recommendations.
Vaccine Certificate Standards and Recognition of Certificates from Other Countries
Simultaneously, the EU is making progress towards accepting vaccine certificates from third countries. When this happens, travelers from accepted countries will be able to present their certificates and enter the EU.
As of October 27, 2021, 43 countries have connected to the EU system. This allows their citizens to travel into the EU without concern about recognition of their certificates.
The European Commission on October 29, 2021, announced the acceptance of the NHS COVID Pass into the EU Digital COVID Certificate scheme. Travelers from the UK can now travel with their NHS pass into the EU starting November 1, 2021.
As the only COVID-19 vaccination certificate in effect, the EU system has set standards for other countries that wish to implement successful vaccination verification systems.
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