The European Union on Monday capped the legislative process on the Covid-19 vaccine passports for international travel on the continent. The presidents of the EU Parliament, Council, and Commission signed the final official regulation to approve the use of the EU Digital Covid Certificate.
So far, a dozen countries are using the free mobile app, which uses a QR code to prove that a traveler has received a Covid-19 vaccine, recently tested negative for Covid-19, or has already caught and recovered from the virus. The certificate is supposed to exempt travelers who cross the border into another European country from restrictions like quarantine requirements.
An individual’s name, date of birth, and information about their vaccine status are stored on the certificate, but the personal information is not recorded permanently by countries the person visits.
“Our Union showed again that we work best when we work together,” Presidents David Sassoli and Ursula von der Leyen and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said in a statement.
“We can be proud of this great achievement. The Europe that we all know and that we all want back is a Europe without barriers. The EU Certificate will again enable citizens to enjoy this most tangible and cherished of EU rights – the right to free movement. Signed into law today, it will enable us to travel more safely this summer. Today we reaffirm together that an open Europe prevails,” the presidents said.
The 12 countries currently using the app to verify the vaccination status of travelers are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Spain.
Last week, only seven countries were using the digital vaccine passport. The rest of the EU countries are set to adopt the app by July 1.
Sixteen other countries, 12 EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, are set to begin using the app now that they have finished the testing phase. Those countries are Belgium, Cyprus, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland.
EU countries Finland, Hungary, and Malta are still in the testing phase of the app.
The EU gateway, the “technical backbone” of the digital vaccine passport system, went live on June 1.
The EU Commission proposed the idea in March of using a document to verify a traveler’s vaccination status in order to allow freedom of movement again between European countries.
An EU spokesperson told Forbes earlier this month that U.S. citizens could get the passport if they so wanted.
“Right now if you’re an American, not living in the E.U., you could get the certificate if you ask the national authorities of a member state to give you that certificate based on some proof that you’ve been vaccinated, or had a recent Covid test,” said the EU spokesperson.
Last month, the Biden administration indicated that the U.S. was not considering implementing a vaccine passport system at the federal level. The Department of Homeland Security said at the end of May that “there will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”
The DHS statement seemingly contradicted remarks earlier that day by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who had said the U.S. was “taking a very close look” at potentially mandating vaccine passports for international travel.
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