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European “COVID Passport” available from 1 July

A COVID Certificate (or Passport) is available for citizens of the European Union from 1 July 2021, as the relevant legislation has entered into force. According to the Press Office of the European Commission, the main goal of a common COVID passport is to facilitate the free movement of persons among the European Union. As of 1 July, 21 Member States and other EEA Members have started issuing these passports. The passport can be acquired free of charge in paper and digital form if one has already (i) got vaccinated, (ii) recovered from the disease, or (iii) received a negative test result. The certificate itself will contain a QR code that can be scanned by the authorities and will contain personal data and other data regarding the vaccination, the performed test or the recovery.

The passport shall be accepted in each Member State without any further conditions, as the EU intends to facilitate free travel, so such a passport will not be a precondition to travel. Despite this, there is some controversy, since if someone got vaccinated by a vaccine that previously did not receive EU market authorization, it will be shown in the passport, however the host Member State can deny the recognition thereof, thus the traveller could be treated as a non-vaccinated person. At the time of publishment of this article, only 4 vaccines are accepted by the EU: Comirnaty (Pfizer), Spikevax (Moderna), Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) and Janssen. Other types of vaccines, that are also used in Hungary and in other Member States (Sputnik V and Sinopharm) are not approved.

Despite having a COVID passport, travellers must be aware of the local restrictions, as having such a document does not mean that the individual is free of any restrictions. The passport is only a tool for the citizens of the European Union to be treated the same way, with the above mentioned exceptions, at the host Member State as the nationals of that State.