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Travel law

The proposal of the European Commission regarding a ‘Digital Green Certificate’ or digital vaccination passport

In compliance with article 5, §1, 6° of the Belgian Travel Law (article 5.1 (f) of Directive 2015/2302 on package travel and linked travel arrangements) the organiser is obliged to inform travellers about passport and visa requirements, as well as the health formalities of the country of destination.

On March 17th 2021 the European Commission has submitted a proposal for a Regulation regarding a Digital Green Certificate. Commission Vice-President Margaritis SCHINAS aims to have the certificate in use by June 1st 2021, if it gets approved by the European Parliament and the Member States.

Purpose of the Digital Green Certificate
The Digital Green Certificate will not be a pre-condition to free movement, but aspires to facilitate travel inside the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of the Certificate offers the Member States a chance to ease on the current restrictions or remove them altogether.

The Certificate serves as proof that an individual has been vaccinated, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19, so that Member States can waive public health restrictions on free movement, such as testing or quarantine.

When a Member State continues to require the holders of a Digital Green Certificate to quarantine or test, it must notify the Commission and all other Member States and explain the reasons for such measures.

The proposal doesn’t govern whether the holder of a Certificate has to comply with the COVID-measures applicable within a Member State, such as mask wearing and keeping distance.

The certificate will be valid in all EU Member States and will be available free of charge. The EEA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will get the opportunity to use the Digital Green Certificate as well.

Three types of certificates
To ensure the right of free movement within the European Union and to prevent discrimination against non-vaccinated individuals, the European Commission proposes to not only use a vaccination certificate, but a test certificate and a certificate for persons who have recovered from COVID-19 as well. This should allow as many people as possible to use the Digital Green Certificate for travel. The Commission proposes to use the following types of certificates:

• A vaccination certificate: with information on the vaccine product and manufacturer, the number of doses and the date of vaccination. Vaccinations prior to the introduction of the certificate are eligible for certification. The certificate will be delivered for vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorisation. The Member States can decide to issue vaccination certificates for other vaccines as well.

• A test certificate: with information on the type of test administered, the date and time of the test, the test centre and the result. There won’t be a certificate for self-tests, because these tests are not performed in controlled conditions and, for the time being, are considered to be less reliable. • A recovery certificate: with the date of the positive test result, date of issuance and validity date. The proposal includes a maximum validity period of 180 day from the date of the first positive test result.

Privacy-minded
In addition to the certificate-specific information, the name and date of birth of the individual, the issuing Member State, and a unique certificate identifier are also mentioned.

The authorities in the country of destination and/or the passenger transport services operators shall only be allowed to confirm and verify the certificates. They cannot retain or registered this information.

Temporary measure
The use of the Digital Green Certificate will be suspended once the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares the end of the international public health emergency caused by COVID-19. Similarly, if the WHO declares a new international public health emergency caused by COVID-19, a variant of it, or a similar infectious disease, the system could be reactivated.

The proposed Regulation provides a simplification of safe and free movement in the European Union as long the COVID-19 pandemic prevails. In order to allow as many people as possible to use the Digital Green Certificate, both vaccination certificates, and test and recovery certificates will be introduced. The certificates will contain only the minimum information necessary to substantiate and verify the vaccination, test or recovery status of the holder. These certificates don’t guarantee that COVID-measures in the country of destination won’t have to be followed.

As part of his information obligation, the organiser will have to inform the traveller about the existence of the Digital Green Certificate, which in all likelihood, though subject to changes, will be applied in the EU and EEA countries as of June 1st 2021.
If you have any additional questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact our office.