The NHS app or a letter from the NHS are the two ways in which Britons can show proof of vaccination for travel abroad.
Travellers who have received the booster dose can now use the app to demonstrate this. Those who have previously tested positive for Covid on an NHS test can also access their proof of recovery via the app.
The app holds the NHS Covid Pass, which is accepted by all EU countries, as well as most nations further afield. It is also possible to request a NHS Covid Pass letter, if you need, or prefer, this version. Travellers aged 12 and over have access to the pass.
Individuals who are not vaccinated usually have to present a negative Covid test or evidence of immunity, according to their destination’s requirements; the accepted ways to demonstrate these results are listed on each country’s Foreign Office guidance page on gov.uk.
Below, we answer some of the most common questions about holiday vaccine passports.
Is a Covid vaccine passport a physical document?
A function is available on the NHS app that enables users to show, for the purpose of entering foreign countries, that they have been vaccinated. The vaccination record shows the dates of your jabs, with a barcode for each dose you’ve received.
There is an option on the app to download a copy of your certificate, which you can then print out. It is wise to do so, in case you lose your phone or the battery dies while away. However, those who downloaded the NHS Covid Pass as a PDF or added it to their Apple Wallet before November 1 will need to download, reprint or add an updated version before they travel so that their pass is valid. Older certificates will not scan into the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) scheme.
You can also request an NHS Covid Pass letter, which can take around seven working days to arrive.
How do I get a holiday vaccine passport?
You need to download the NHS App on your smartphone – this is different from the contact tracing app, called NHS Covid 19, which is separate and does not include vaccine passports.
The app requires access to your NHS profile and number, which records whether you have received a coronavirus vaccination or not.
The vaccination record held by the NHS is shown inside the app.
Open your App Store if using an iPhone, or the Google Play Store on an Android phone. Search for “NHS App” and it should be the top result. The app is compatible with most Android smartphones. Any device running Android 5.0 and higher will be able to download and use it.
Those without access to the app can request a letter from the NHS proving their vaccination status by calling 119 – the letter may take up to seven working days to arrive.
Other apps that are used as vaccine proof are free like the NHS app. The Iata version is free to download and use.
Who can use the NHS app for proof of vaccination?
Everyone aged 12 and above can access the Covid pass. Up until early February, children aged 12 to 15 were not granted access to the digital pass.
How does the NHS app work?
It allows people to register details such as their name, postcode and NHS number to link the app with their health record held by their GP.
This information is then shown in the app once people have logged into it, allowing them to view their vaccination record as well as other medical information such as allergies and appointment records.
To find your vaccination status in the app, users can click the tab ‘your health’ and then click a box called ‘Get your NHS Covid Pass’.
This should take you to a screen where you can choose between ‘Domestic’ and ‘Travel’. Choose the latter. From there, you can choose to view your Covid-19 records, download PDF copy or receive an offline copy by email.
Note the process of locating your records may be slightly different depending on whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone.
If you are using a download of the pass, you will likely need to download it again the next time you travel. The code expires after 30 days.
Do I need a vaccine booster in order to travel?
A growing number of destinations have imposed time limits on the validity of vaccinations, unless travellers have boosted their immunity with follow-up jabs.
Does the app show my booster?
Yes, if you have received a booster dose, it should now appear on the NHS Covid Pass for travel. This came into effect on November 19. It should appear within a few days of receiving the booster shot.
Note: the third dose does not appear on the domestic version of the pass as, in England, it is not a requirement for individuals to receive a booster dose to be considered fully vaccinated.
Does the app show my proof of recovery?
Yes; if you have previously tested positive on an NHS test and registered the result, your NHS Covid Pass should now include certification of your proof of recovery. The likes of Iceland, Croatia and Turkey accept proof of recovery in lieu of a negative pre-travel Covid test result, in recognition of the immunity booster that a natural infection grants.
Accessing the certification via the app is free and relatively simple. In the ‘Get your NHS COVID Pass’ section, click ‘Travel’, then ‘Show details’. Scroll through the QR codes confirming your vaccinations, and the final one should state ‘Recovered from COVID-19’. This can be printed and saved, along with your vaccination records.
What is the Iata Travel Pass?
Iata (the international air transport association) launched its own version of a travel pass on which evidence of health records related to Covid-19 can be stored.
The IATA Travel Pass app can be downloaded on the Apple Store and Google Play.
The app includes: a registry of health requirements (ie passengers can look up what the travel, testing and vaccination rules are for their journey); a registry of vaccination and testing centres (helping users to find these in their departure or arrival destination); lab app (which enables labs and test centres to send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers) and the Travel Pass app.
Through the travel pass, passengers can:
- Create a ‘digital passport’
- Verify that their vaccination or test meets the regulations of their destination
- Share test or vaccination records with authorities
Some 59 airlines are trialling the IATA Travel Pass, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates.
What is the EU Digital COVID Certificate (GDC)?
The EU Digital COVID Certificate is used across the bloc, and is recognised in the UK as proof of vaccination. The NHS Covid certificate is recognised by the whole of the EU as an equivalent to the Digital COVID Certificate.
How will a vaccine passport keep my data private?
The Government guidance states: “Your Covid-19 vaccination status is held securely within the NHS App. It can only be accessed via the NHS login service.
“The NHS COVID Pass only shows your COVID-19 vaccination status in the form of a 2D barcode, which allows you to view your vaccination record.
“The digital version of the NHS COVID Pass service can be accessed via the NHS App or NHS.UK.
“When you access your COVID-19 vaccination status via the NHS App, or directly via the NHS website, you will need to use your NHS login.
“NHS login has advanced security features to protect you and minimise any risk of fraud. Your vaccination status displays your vaccination record only and no other personal health records or data.”
Both Iata and the EU have said they will ensure the sensitive medical data will be kept secure too.
What if my GP name does not match my passport name?
Then you might not be able to use it to travel. The Department of Health and Social Care, which is in charge of the app, recommends that passengers check the name on their passport matches up with how it is displayed on their Covid-19 vaccination status at least two weeks before travel. However, it should only matter that your first and last names match, and not your middle name.
It said if different, passengers are advised to contact their GP practice to have their details updated.
Iata, which runs the Travel Pass, said the same. A spokesperson told Telegraph Travel that the Travel Pass requires that the name on the vaccine certificate and the passport match.
How do I change my details with my GP?
The NHS says: “Contact your GP surgery and ask them to update your details. They will then update your NHS record. Any changes made there will appear in the NHS App.”
How do I change the name on my passport?
You must apply for a new passport, which can take up to 10 weeks. It is important to remember that your details need to match those of some holiday bookings, like flights, for example.
You can contact your airline to change the name of a flight booking, though you may be charged.
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