NHS app to introduce ‘vaccine passport’ from next week so tourists can show they have had Covid jab
With restrictions around travel set to ease in England later this month, it has been announced that the NHS app will double as a vaccine passport.
The Government says: “From 17 May, you may be able to show your Covid-19 vaccination status as proof of your status when travelling abroad.”
Not all countries are currently accepting proof of vaccination for entry into the country, so depending on where you want to go, different requirements may be necessary, such as negative Covid-19 test results.
This is what you need to know.
How to use the app?
Official guidance on the Government website states that you will be able to access your Covid-19 vaccination status on the free NHS app from 17 May.
It says: “Proof of your Covid-19 vaccination status will be shown within the NHS app.
“We recommend that you register with the app before booking international travel.”
If you don’t have access to a smartphone, you can phone the NHS helpline on 119 (from 17 May) and request for a letter proving your vaccination status to be posted to you. This must be at least five days after you’ve completed your course of the vaccine, and the Government estimates that it will take up to five days to reach you.
A full course of the vaccine is defined, currently, as two doses of any approved vaccine.
To use the NHS app, you must be registered with a GP in England and be aged 13 or over. It is available to download for free on both iOS and Android devices.
The Government says that it is “working with the devolved administrations to ensure this facility is available to everyone across the UK”.
Will I be able to use the app to travel?
There is a growing number of countries that will accept proof of vaccination for entry into the country.
The EU announced that it will be open to all vaccinated visitors this summer, with European Commission President Urula von der Leyan saying: “Time to revive [the EU’s] tourism industry and for cross-border friendships to rekindle - safely.
“We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors and those from countries with a good health situation.
“But if variants emerge, we have to act fast: we propose an EU emergency brake mechanism.”
Belize is also accepting vaccinated travellers, with visitors required to prove that they have had a full course of the vaccine at least two weeks before entering the country. They are also required to download the Belize Health App and register their information 72 hours before arrival.
The Belize Tourism Board said: “The decision to ease the restrictions on travellers who have received the Covid vaccine has been facilitated by the reduction in daily new cases across the country.”
Cyprus also allows fully vaccinated British tourists to visit the country, with Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios saying: “We have informed the British government that from May 1 we will facilitate the arrival of British nationals who have been vaccinated… so they can visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine.”
Greek Prime Minister Harry Theoharis said: “Greece is ready with a complete protocol for summer 2021.
“Tourists will be welcome if before travel they are either vaccinated, or have antibodies, or test negative. All tourists will be subject to random testing.”
What are the restrictions on travel in England?
Currently, it is illegal to travel abroad for holidays in England - you must have a permitted reason to travel abroad, and complete a declaration form.
Some examples of reasonable excuses to travel abroad include to fulfil work or education commitments, medical reasons and funerals.
However, from 17 May, restrictions will ease and you will no longer need to complete a declaration form in order to travel abroad. From this point, the rules for returning to England will change as well.
Depending on where you’re returning from, the protocol for returning to England can differ.
If you are returning from a “red list” country or territory, you will need to take a Covid-19 test, complete a passenger locator form and book a quarantine hotel package, including two Covid-19 tests.
On arrival in England, you must quarantine in a managed hotel.
If arriving from an “amber list” country or territory, again, you must complete a passenger locator form, take a Covid-19 test and book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 travel tests, to be taken after arrival in England.
Upon arrival, you must quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days, and take a Covid-19 test on or before day two or on or before day eight. You may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private Covid-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.
Finally, if you are arriving from a “green list” country or territory, you must complete a passenger locator form, take a Covid-19 test and book and pay for a day two Covid-19 test.
Upon arrival, you must take a Covid-19 test on or before day two after you arrive. You do not need to quarantine unless the test result is positive. You must self isolate if NHS Test and Trace informs you that you travelled to England with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
You do not need to take a Covid-19 test or quarantine on arrival in England if you are travelling within the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and you have not been outside of the Common Travel Area in the previous 10 days.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site NationalWorld