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The EU Digital COVID Certificate has now been rolled out across Europe following a deadline of 1 July 2021 for Member States to adopt the technology. The Certificate is digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, has received a negative test result or has recovered from COVID-19.

While Certificate holders can also request a paper version, both the digital and paper versions of the Certificate will have a QR code and digital signature to verify the authenticity of the Certificate. The digital version of the Certificate can be stored on a mobile app.

Once issued, Certificate holders should in principle be exempted from any restrictions on free movement imposed by Member States on public health grounds, unless they remain necessary and proportionate to safeguard public health. Fully vaccinated Certificate holders should also become exempt from travel-related testing or quarantine requirements imposed by Member States 14 days after having received their last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Certificate issuing bodies, be they hospitals, test centres or national health authorities, have their own digital signature keys for verification of Certificates which are stored in secure databases in each Member State. The validity and authenticity of Certificates can then be verified using a gateway set up by the European Commission to check who issued and signed the Certificate, with all health data remaining with the Member State that issued the Certificate.

The Certificate is a strong example of an effective digital solution for the safe free movement of citizens within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Health Information and Quality Authority of Ireland has stated that the Certificate could also be used to facilitate mass gatherings such as concerts, festivals and sporting events. It will be a vital tool going forward as Europe re-opens, and could stand as a pivotal project in terms of the continued use of digital health certificates and records in the future.

For more information, please contact a member of our Product Regulation & Consumer Law team.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

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