Greece will accept NHS paper card as proof of vaccination
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Greece is preparing to welcome tourists back en masse this summer. Among those allowed in will be Brits, Americans and other Europeans. But, travellers looking to venture to Greece must meet the entry requirements, including either being fully vaccinated or having a negative COVID-19 PCR test result.
For many, having the ability to enter Greece as a fully vaccinated traveller without the need for any additional testing could mean an easier experience. On Tuesday, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis told The Times that fully vaccinated Brits would only need their handwritten paper NHS card as proof of inoculation.
“Until the U.K. has a digital passport, we have seen the paper cards that are provided with the two vaccine appointment dates and we are recognising them,” Theoharis told The Times. “They can be used on the ground and at the borders.”
The U.K. and the EU are still working on developing their own versions of a digital vaccine passport. Last week, officials with the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group were told that the British government would have a system in place that would allow British travellers to show their proof of vaccination in a digital format by the time international travel is set to resume. Currently, the U.K. is aiming for a date of 17 May for a return to international travel, though it could still be pushed back.
“We aim to give people the ability to prove their vaccine status by the time international travel restarts where other countries require it,” a government official said on a conference call last week.
Until then, Greece’s announcement will ensure that Brits who are looking to go on holiday will be permitted to do so even if the digital technology isn’t quite ready.
Travellers who are looking to go to Greece when travel resumes who have not yet been fully vaccinated will be allowed to do so, but they must have proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result, carried out no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. The guidance on testing may change to allow rapid antigen tests, rather than pricier PCR tests for incoming unvaccinated tourists. There will also be random spot checks on arrival in Greece.
Amid the news that Greece will allow Brits in with their paper NHS vaccination record, Portugal has said that it will not allow incoming travellers to show the same as proof of inoculation. Portuguese Tourism Minister Rita Marques said that the country will not accept the paper NHS card as proof of vaccination because of the high risk of forgery.
“As you can imagine, a piece of paper with some handwriting is not considered to be as secure as we would like,” Marques said. “It is very important that we avoid fraud and an integrated digital pass is the way forward, with a QR code. We are working with the European Commission to have in place a system that will allow us to welcome holidaymakers safely.”
Even when there is eventually a digital health passport available to Brits — or those who can get into Greece with just their paper NHS slip — proof of vaccination will not allow for eased entry restrictions on return to the U.K. Under the current traffic light system, countries will be categorised based on their risk level: red for high risk, amber for medium risk and green for low risk.
While we don’t yet know which countries will be categorised in which traffic light level, both Greece and Portugal are hopeful they will be on the green list, given their low infection rates and high vaccination rates. Even if that is the case, arrivals entering England from even the lowest-risk green countries will still need to have two negative COVID-19 test results: one prior to departure, which can be a lateral flow device, and one on arrival or within two days of arrival, which must be a PCR test.
Featured photo by Igor Tichonow/EyeEm/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!