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Vaccine Passports: Unlocking the EU Travel

On March 17, 2021, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced the introduction of “Digital Green Certificates” before the tourist season. Holders of these certificates, who are vaccinated against Covid-19 or have other evidence of their safety for others, will be able to move and travel around the region freely, without restrictions and without the need to maintain the mandatory quarantine. 

What does the Сertificate look like? 

The Сertificate will have a QR code; it can be presented in paper or electronic format and will be issued free of charge. It will not only allow free entry to European countries, but it will also be possible to present it in public places: on public transport, restaurants, theatres, and cinemas. This document will allow you to prove that a person is immune: one was vaccinated, recently cured of Covid-19, and has antibodies or received negative results of a PCR test.

The project has already been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), provided that vaccines presented in the Сertificate are among those that are allowed in Europe (at the moment, four have been approved: BioNTech and Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson).

How does the Digital Green Certificate work across the EU?

The Digital Green Certificate contains a QR code with a digital signature to protect it against tampering. When the certificate is verified, the QR code is scanned and the signature is validated. Each authority (e.g. a hospital, a test laboratory, a health authority) that has the right to issue certificates has its own digital signature key. All of them are stored in secure databases in each country.
 The European Commission plans to create a registration database with a gateway. Through this gateway, all certificate signatures can be verified throughout the EU. The personal data of the certificate holder do not pass through the gateway, as these are not necessary to verify the electronic signature. The European Commission will also provide open source implementations to support member states in developing software that authorities can use to scan and verify the QR codes.

Digital Signature
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