Covid passports: How do I get one and when will I need it?

Image source, Getty Images

The Northern Ireland executive has voted to introduce mandatory Covid-19 passports.

Wales has widened the list of places where you need to prove your Covid status to be allowed entry.

Vaccine passports are also in force in Scotland, but England scrapped similar plans.

What’s happening in Northern Ireland?

The Northern Ireland executive has voted to introduce mandatory vaccination passports, after Health Minister Robin Swann said ministers “have to act”.

The Department of Health will bring forward detailed proposals shortly, but Mr Swann recommended that the system is introduced on 29 November, with a 14-day grace period until 13 December before fixed penalty notices could be issued.

It is understood the measure will apply for access to:

  • nightclubs
  • hospitality venues which serve food and drink
  • cinemas, theatres, concert halls and conference centres
  • indoor events with 500 or more attendees with some or all of the audience not normally seated
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees with some or all of the audience not normally seated
  • events where more than 10,000 people will be present regardless of whether they are seated

As well as proof of vaccination status, people will also be able to use a negative lateral flow test taken in the previous 48 hours or a positive PCR test taken in the previous 30 to 180 days.

Northern Ireland’s health department has already updated its existing COVIDCert NI app – which was introduced to allow people travelling abroad to show proof of vaccination – to include a certificate for “domestic use”.

This creates a QR code which can be scanned by venue staff using the COVIDCert Check NI app.

How do Covid passports work in Wales?

People now need to show their NHS Covid Pass to gain entry to:

  • cinemas, theatres and concert halls
  • nightclubs and comparable venues
  • unseated indoor live events for more than 500 people
  • unseated outdoor live events for more than 4,000 people
  • any event for more than 10,000 people

Anyone aged over 16 who has been fully vaccinated in Wales or England can use the pass to prove their status, but it’s only compulsory for over-18s.

It’s also available for people who’ve had a negative lateral flow test in the previous 48 hours.

You can get a digital copy of the NHS Covid pass, but need to register for an NHS login first. Call 0300 303 5667 for a paper copy at least five days after your final vaccine dose.

From 29 November, booster jabs will also appear on the Covid Pass for travel but evidence of a third dose is not needed to enter venues in Wales.

How do Covid passports work in Scotland?

You need show proof you have been fully vaccinated to enter nightclubs, adult entertainment venues and many large events in Scotland.

These include indoor events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 people.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

The scheme covers sporting venues which have a capacity of more than 10,000, including Hampden Park

People who live in Scotland can prove they’re fully vaccinated by using the NHS Scotland Covid Status App to generate a QR code. A paper version is also available.

People coming from elsewhere in the UK can show their vaccination status with the NHS App (if from England or Wales) or the Covidcert NI app (if from Northern Ireland) – or via paper letters of certification.

Some people are exempt, including under-18s, vaccine trial participants, and those unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme may be extended to cover cinemas, theatres and more hospitality venues from 6 December. A final decision will be taken on 23 November.

She also said the rules might be changed to allow people to show a negative test result instead of proof of vaccination.

What happened to Covid passport plans in England?

The government dropped its plans for vaccine passports, which had been due to start at the end of September.

But they could still be introduced under the government’s winter “Plan B”, if cases surge.

You can already prove your Covid-19 status via the NHS App (not the NHS Covid-19 app which alerts you if you’ve been close to someone with the virus).

The app generates an NHS Covid Pass which shows your Covid vaccination details or test results.

A record of any booster jab will now show up in the digital pass for travel but may not yet be available via the Covid Pass letter service.

You can get the pass if you’re 18 or over, registered with a GP, and meet any one of the following criteria:

  • It’s been two weeks since your second vaccination (or single Jansen dose)
  • You’ve had a negative PCR or lateral flow test result in the past 48 hours, and reported it on the NHS website (this pass lasts for 48 hours after the result)
  • You’ve had a positive PCR test result in the past six months, and finished self-isolating (this pass lasts for 180 days)

Over-16s can also get the NHS Covid Pass for foreign travel if:

  • You’ve had two vaccine doses (or one Jansen jab)
  • You’ve had a positive PCR test result in the past six months, and finished self-isolating (this pass lasts for 180 days)

If you don’t have a GP, or a mobile device, you can access the pass via the NHS website or by calling 119 to request a letter. The letter only shows your vaccination status (not test results) and has no expiry date.

Image source, Getty Images

What about travel?

Many foreign countries insist that visitors are fully vaccinated as an entry requirement. Others will waive quarantine restrictions if you can prove your status.

In some places you may also have to demonstrate that you’ve had both Covid jabs in order to attend large events, go to bars and restaurants or use public transport.

The EU will accept the official proof of vaccination status from all four UK nations

You should check the rules for your destination before you travel and can find these on the Foreign Office’s travel advice website.

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