Covid passport: The EU travel certificate is about to change – what you should know

Sadiq Khan says he supports Covid passports

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The EU Covid certificate validity is set to change from February, with the bloc tightening the rules on its flagship travel pass. With Omicron cases rising all over Europe, the EU has agreed on limiting the validity of the Covid certificate to nine months.

The EU Covid pass allowed holidaymakers to prove their vaccination statuses, testing results and recovery from the virus when crossing borders of member states.

Free travel within the bloc with no need for quarantining or further testing had helped the tourism industry over the past months.

The pass will now only be valid for nine months.

Some EU countries have lately implemented new travel restrictions and the bloc is no longer putting on a common front when it comes to travel rules.

The rise of Omicron was met by strong reactions, with countries closing their borders, banning some holidaymakers or reinstating testing requirements.

The European Commission has reacted by adopting a new rule on the validity of the Covid travel pass.

This week, the Commission agreed to make the pass only valid for nine months after travellers became fully vaccinated.

Full vaccination was defined as two doses of a vaccine, or one dose in the case of Johnson & Johnson.

The new rule could be blocked by member states but officials have said there is widespread support for the validity restriction.

The new validity will be binding for all 27 EU countries from February 1.

Once binding, member states will have to let fully vaccinated holidaymakers with a valid pass enter their country.

However, each country can still impose more requirements for entry, such as tests or quarantine.

Currently, Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia, Cyprus and Austria all require EU travellers to show a negative Covid test on arrival on top of the Covid pass.

The pass’s validity will be extended for travellers with a booster shot.

There will then be no set limit to the certificates’ validity.

Britons who have been fully vaccinated can present a NHS Covid Pass throughout Europe.

The pass is accepted as proof of vaccination overseas, but it is unclear whether the new rule will also apply to non-EU passes.

Travel rules are again changing all over the world with the UK scrapping the pre-departure test from Friday 7 January at 4am.

Holidaymakers coming back to the UK will also no longer be required to take a Day 2 PCR test, with a lateral flow test deemed sufficient from Sunday 9 January at 4am.

The move was welcome by the travel industry, with Alistair Rowland, Chief Executive for long-haul tour operator, Blue Bay Travel, and Chairman of ABTA, saying: “The scrapping of the restrictive travel testing measures imposed by the UK government in December, in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, is a relief for the travel industry and great news for holidaymakers.

“The pre-departure test was a major worry for British travellers who feared testing positive on holiday, getting stuck in quarantine abroad and landed with a hefty bill for the privilege.

“Ditching the pre-departure test and switching the post-arrival Day 2 PCR tests for cheaper lateral flow tests, which could save families hundreds of pounds in testing fees, will help the travel industry enormously and give customers the confidence to book that well-earned getaway.”

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