Everything you need to know about coronavirus certificates in the Netherlands
As was announced at the most recent press conference, the Dutch government has introduced a new coronavirus certificate system for the hospitality and cultural industries, which comes into effect on September 25. What does this new rule mean for you and your life in the Netherlands? Here are the answers to all your questions about the so-called coronabewijs.
What is a coronavirus certificate?
Known in Dutch as coronabewijs or CTB, a coronavirus certificate can be one of three things:
- Proof of vaccination (with a vaccine recognised / approved by the EMA)
- Proof of recovery from COVID-19 (within the last 365 days)
- A negative coronavirus test (max. 24 hours old)
If you’re vaccinated or recently recovered, you won’t be required to present a negative test result.
Self-tests will not be recognised as valid test results. As long as the rule remains in place, COVID-19 tests will remain free to the public.
How can I access my coronabewijs?
While the rule may be new, the technology that supports the system was actually launched before the summer - and many people will likely already have used a so-called coronavirus certificate, whether it was to attend an event here in the Netherlands or to travel abroad over the summer holiday.
Via the CoronaCheck app, you can generate your vaccination or recovery QR code by logging in with your DigiD. Your health / vaccination data should be automatically collected and uploaded by the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) or the GGD, but if it isn’t then you can also manually create your certificate via the app.
If you’re having to get tested in order to generate the certificate, then you will need to book a test (either with the GGD or via Testen voor Toegang). Once tested, you should receive your results within the hour via email and, if you’ve tested negative, submit the code featured in the email to the CoronaCheck app so it can be converted into a QR code.
I don’t have a smartphone - does that mean I can’t have a certificate?
Of course, the whole system is designed to be simple and easy to use for anyone who has a smartphone or access to the CoronaCheck app, but if you don’t have a mobile phone which allows you to download applications then don’t worry, you can also print out a physical certificate.
Visit coronacheck.nl and log in with your DigiD or fill in the code you received with your negative test result in order to generate a QR code. Once you’ve got the code, you can print it out and take it with you wherever you go!
I was vaccinated outside of the Netherlands / the EU - what do I do?
If you were vaccinated in another country, you will not be able to automatically generate a QR code via CoronaCheck.
If you have been fully vaccinated in the EU and have an internationally recognised QR code generated by your country of vaccination, then this will also be recognised here in the Netherlands (similarly to how Dutch vaccinations are recognised if you travel within Europe).
If you were vaccinated outside of the EU but are a Dutch citizen or resident of the Netherlands, you’ll have to register your vaccination with the RIVM. Many expats and internationals have struggled to do this, but the government has set up a system that allows you to register your vaccination in the Netherlands - it does, however, require you to travel to Utrecht.
Once you have registered your foreign vaccination, you will be able to generate your QR code in the way outlined above.
If you were vaccinated abroad but don’t have any official proof of your vaccination or if you received a vaccine not approved by the EMA, you will not be able to register your vaccination in the Netherlands - you’ll instead have to use either a certificate of recovery or a recent negative test to generate a QR code. This will also apply to any tourists vaccinated outside of the EU.
I have a certificate - do I need anything else?
The certificate is key, but it’s not the only thing you’ll need to carry with you. Everyone aged 14 and above will also be required to present valid identification - either a passport, driving licence, or ID card will work - as the information from your certificate will be checked against the details on your official ID.
How does the CoronaCheck system work?
Using a slightly different version of the CoronaCheck app, businesses will be able to scan your QR code. If you have a valid certificate (i.e. the QR code shows you're vaccinated, recovered, or negative), the app presents a green "safe" message.
The app doesn't disclose any personal details - it won't even say which kind of certificate you have. The person scanning your QR code will only be able to see your active certificate, your initials, and part of your date of birth.
Where will I need to use my coronavirus certificate?
As of November 6, your coronavirus certificate will have to be presented at the following establishments:
- Restaurants / Cafes (indoors and outdoors)
- Bars / Nightclubs (indoors and outdoors)
- Concert halls
- Events and festivals (indoor and outdoor)
- Professional and amateur sporting events
- Swimming pools
- Theme parks
The rule does not apply to takeaway restaurants / cafes. An exception also applies to events and activities organised for those under the age of 18, and for outdoor amateur sporting events.
In any public indoor area where a certificate isn't required, face masks will be mandatory.
To whom does the new rule apply? Are there any exceptions?
Everyone over the age of 13 will be required to present a coronavirus certificate. However, it is important to note that employees working at establishments where certificates are required are not obligated to provide proof of vaccination / recovery or a negative test result (although the government has confirmed it is working on the legislation required in order to enforce coronavirus certificates in the workplace).
How will the rule be enforced? Who will check my certificate?
There's been much debate about who will actually be checking the certificates. Ultimately, the government has confirmed that customers will be responsible for sticking to the new rules, with each individual establishment expected to check whether customers have a valid certificate.
45 million euros has been made available for municipalities to employ additional staff members (i.e. security staff and inspectors) to assist business owners in enforcing the CTB rule. Police officers and community service officers (BOAs) will check if the rule is being enforced by business owners / events organisers, and repeatedly failing to check customers' certificates could lead to an official warning, a fine, or the establishment being shut down.
How long will the coronavirus certificate system be in place?
This remains relatively unclear, although Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge have emphasised that it will be temporary. It is expected, however, that it could remain in place until next spring.
Do any other countries use coronavirus certificates?
The Netherlands is not the first country to introduce this rule; in Europe alone, several governments have decided that using vaccination certificates or negative tests is a safe way to allow certain sectors and businesses to reopen in spite of the ongoing pandemic.
Where can I find more information?
Thumb: Henk Vrieselaar via Shutterstock.