Europe Launches a COVID-19 Digital Pass for Travel

The passport-like program will expand to the entirety of the E.U. on July 1

Modern Airport
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The European Union is officially one step closer to broadly opening up for tourism ahead of the peak summer season. Today, seven member states—Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Poland—have launched a new COVID-19 digital passport system that will facilitate easier international journeys.

Citizens of those countries can now apply for a digital pass that verifies that they've been fully vaccinated, have received a negative test result within the past 72 hours, or have recovered from COVID-19. Once approved for the E.U. Digital COVID Certificate, as the pass is formally called, those E.U. citizens can enter other E.U. countries freely without presenting additional medical information or quarantining. (For those without digital devices, paper certificates will be issued.)

"EU citizens are looking forward to traveling again, and they want to do so safely," Stella Kyriakides, E.U. commissioner for health and food safety, said in a statement. "Having an E.U. certificate is a crucial step on the way.”

The program is open to international visitors to each of the seven countries, too—non-E.U. citizens can apply for a digital pass upon arrival, enabling them to visit multiple countries in one trip with ease.

One of the biggest concerns about such a digital passport, particularly in the United States, is privacy. But personal data for the E.U. Digital COVID Certificate will be securely stored only by the national body that issued it. When border authorities scan it at another E.U. member state, that information will not be retained.

While the program is limited in scope right now, all 27 E.U. members must launch the program in their own countries by July 1, allowing for unimpeded travel throughout Europe.

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