EU vaccine passports will be ‘valid for 9 months’ after first jab

Dec 22, 2021

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European “vaccine passports” will be valid for nine months after the holder’s first jab to allow tourists the freedom to travel while the pandemic still rages, it was confirmed yesterday.

The European Commission ratified the new rules as European countries tighten controls on travellers in a bid to reduce the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant over the Christmas period.

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From 1 February, 27 EU states will be obliged to let fully-vaccinated travellers across their borders without having to provide a negative test, so long as they have a valid “European Union COVID-19 certificate”.

Currently, seven European nations demand that all visitors provide a negative COVID-19 test, whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

Related: What could UK’s new COVID-19 restrictions look like

They are Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Cyprus and Austria.

The regulations do leave wiggle room for exceptions, though, justified by a deteriorating situation. These could include the reintroduction of negative tests and quarantines, but governments will have to prove such measures are proportionate.

“We prefer to use for the free movement in Europe only the certificate without additional measures,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Reuters.

The nine-month expiration window applies only to travel, however. Governments will have the option of extending the duration of COVID-19 passes for events held inside their own countries.

It is also likely the window will be widened indefinitely for people who have had their booster, though the Commission said it is still too early to say for how long a third jab provides immunity.

Related: Which European countries have COVID-19 restrictions in place this Christmas?

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