What changes to EU vaccination certificates mean for your travel plans
New rules coming into effect on February 1 mean that, as of Tuesday, the European Commission will enforce a nine-month limit on the validity of vaccine certificates. Here’s what you need to know about the new rules and what they mean for you.
New EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate rules come into effect
Whether you’re travelling internationally or are out and about in the Netherlands, your (digital) coronavirus certificate is invaluable to you. Without a valid QR code to prove that you are fully vaccinated, recently recovered, or have tested negative for COVID-19, you are unable to eat out at a restaurant or go to the cinema in the Netherlands, and you’re unable to take a train or hop on a plane to go to another EU country.
But recent developments - including the Omicron variant and the push from various governments for people to get their booster shots - have led to changes in international rules, and from Tuesday, the EU will enforce a nine-month limit on the validity of vaccine certificates.
EU introduces expiration date for vaccination certificates for travel
The European Commission adopted the new rules before the Christmas holidays, with the legislation coming into effect on February 1. As of today, the new EU-wide rules for the coronavirus vaccine certificates are:
- Vaccination certificates issued in the EU and used for EU-wide travel are valid for nine months (270 days)
- Booster shots can be used to extend the validity of COVID-19 vaccine certificates
- EU citizens and residents without a valid vaccination certificate can still travel using a recovery certificate or with a recent negative test result
- No limit on the validity of booster shots has been introduced
The new rules mean that if someone received their second Pfizer dose last summer and, for example, received their vaccination certificate on August 1, 2021 would have a valid certificate until April 28, 2022, allowing them to travel between EU member states without a negative test result or a booster shot. After that date, they would no longer be considered fully vaccinated.
In order to avoid confusion, the European Commission has encouraged member states to align their national COVID-19 certificate rules with the EU rules in the hopes this “provides certainty for travellers and reduces disruptions.”
Different rules in different countries lead to confusion amongst travellers
While the EU is attempting to keep things simple by enforcing one rule across the bloc, things can still get pretty complicated if you’re travelling between different countries. Different governments have their own vaccination rules and entry requirements, and so while a Dutch citizen may be considered fully vaccinated here in the Netherlands, other European countries might think otherwise.
For example, in Germany, someone who received just one Janssen dose is not considered fully vaccinated - they must also receive an additional mRNA dose (i.e. either Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna) to be granted access to German restaurants or events under the country’s 3G rules.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the government is also introducing a limit on the validity of vaccination certificates, but instead of sticking to the nine-month limit advised by the European Commission, vaccination certificates will only be valid for a maximum of six months.
Government to enforce nine-month limit on coronavirus vaccines
Anyone vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Netherlands receives their QR code in the CoronaCheck app after either 14 or 28 days, depending on whether they receive Moderna, Pfizer / BioNTech, AstraZeneca, or Janssen.
In January, the Dutch government announced plans to follow the lead of the EU and also enforce a rule that meant Dutch vaccination certificates were only valid for 270 days without a booster. According to Dutch Health Minister Ernst Kuipers, this new rule will come into effect on Friday, February 4.