The Commission adopted rules relating to the EU Digital COVID Certificate, establishing a binding acceptance period of 9 months (precisely 270 days) of vaccination certificates for the purposes of intra EU travel.
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A clear and uniform acceptance period for vaccination certificates will guarantee that travel measures continue to be coordinated, as called for by the European Council following its latest meeting of 16 December 2021. The new rules will ensure restrictions are based on the best available scientific evidence as well as objective criteria. Continued coordination is essential for the functioning of the Single Market and it will provide clarity for EU citizens in the exercise of their right to free movement.
The new rules for intra EU travel harmonise the different rules across Member States. This validity period takes into account the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, according to which booster doses are recommended at the latest six months after the completion of the first vaccination cycle.
The Certificate will remain valid for a grace period of an additional three months beyond those six months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and citizens will have access to booster doses.
In addition, today the Commission has also adapted the rules for the encoding of vaccination certificates. This is necessary to ensure that vaccination certificates showing completion of the primary series can always be distinguished from vaccination certificates issued following a booster dose.
Boosters will be recorded as follows:
3/3 for a booster dose following a primary 2-dose vaccination series.
2/1 for a booster dose following a single-dose vaccination or a one dose of a 2-dose vaccine administered to a recovered person.
Under these new EU rules for intra-EU travel, Member States must accept any vaccination certificate that has been issued less than nine months since the administration of the last dose of the primary vaccination. Member States are not able to provide for a shorter nor for a longer acceptance period.
The acceptance period will not be encoded in the certificate itself. Instead, the mobile applications used to verify the EU Digital COVID Certificates will be adjusted: If the date of vaccination is longer than 270 days ago, the mobile application used for verification will indicate the certificate as expired.
To allow for sufficient time for technical implementation of the acceptance period and for Member States' booster vaccination campaigns, these new rules should apply from 1 February 2022. ■