a white buildings with blue domes and a body of water with Santorini in the background

The world’s first safe and secure “Green Passport” has been launched in Athens, Greece. Countries want to open, but they’re not quite thrilled about trusting a little hand written piece of paper saying you’ve been vaccinated or tested, purely on its own.

The European Union solution is the so called “green passport”, and ahead of its full deployment, Greece has tested the very first. The technology, which aims to fast track a return to travel is being rolled out ahead of what’s promising to be a busy summer for travel in Europe.

a city with many buildings

Europe Launching Digital Green Certificates

Greece has unveiled the first successful EU “green pass”, which was officially launched in Athens by Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, after successful intro trials with Iceland and Germany.

The pass will add simplicity and security to summer travel plans.

The EU’s digital green certificates allow for countries, approved clinics, hospitals and other trusted partners to upload vetted proof of a negative covid-19 test, antibodies, or full vaccination. The trusted data sharing will expand to the US, UK and others for a July launch date.

The concept is simple, but effective. Fraud in testing and vaccination proof are a key barrier for governments reopening travel presently, but the certificates would help to vet proof in a more secured way, so vaccinated travelers would have stronger records of proof.

Approved testing labs would then upload negative covid-19 or antibody results for any unvaccinated travelers, eliminating risk of someone writing their own PDF result.

The EU states that someone carrying either a digital or paper copy of the EU “green passport” at a border this summer should not be subject to any restrictions on free movement.

In other words, if you’re fully vaccinated, you should be allowed to enter Europe from the USA, or from other outside countries, without requiring any additional testing or quarantine. The same will apply to movement within the EU, between countries.

If you’re not fully vaccinated, the EU green pass gives you the option of proving recent recovery from covid-19, or a recent negative covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel and benefiting equally, provided you get tested first.

According to the proclamation, any country which chooses not to honor the fully free movement must notify all 26 member states of their reasoning for the decision and provide ample warning for travelers, to prevent loss of confidence.

Duomo at sunrise, Milan, Europe.

What About Travel Before July?

Most EU countries are accepting simple proof of vaccination and any verifiable test results. Greece, for example, opened in April to outside visitors, including those from the USA, UK, UAE, Israel and more, and accepts paper vaccination certificates as proof.

Most countries in Europe have agreed to this, and this was clarified earlier by the EU. A traveler with a legitimate proof of full vaccination and 14 days since their last required shot should not worry about whether things will be accepted before the EU green pass launches.

Once the pass is launched, Europe aims to offer a simple and effective process to verify the results digitally, allowing people to simply show a QR code from the app on their phone, or provide a piece of paper which verifies the “all clear”.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Have you seen anything about how the EU will verify vaccines given in US or non-EU countries? We are EU residents, but got vaxed in US, have no idea how this will work…

    1. I believe it will be some form of information sharing between countries, or at least of batch numbers and dates etc, to create a higher level of security.

  2. Any news on how we can travel with children when the grownups are all Vax’d up ?

    1. This is an excellent and complicated question. For many countries, the answer will be covid-19 testing. Children of varying ages (some countries +2, others +13) will need to achieve a negative covid-19 test to enter. For some, younger are allowed without quarantine or testing. Israel, for example, will not let children of any age in without vaccination, which makes family trips impossible, for now. But, Greece, Spain and others will accept a negative test.

  3. Gilbert – any idea how vaccine proof from the US will be uploaded to an EU digital passport? As an IT professional I agree digital is better proof and also will greatly speed up the entry process. However there is no US government database. In addition to my paper CDC certificate I have a record of vaccination in a hospital electronic medical record and also documentation of proof in a state run database. However there are no standards that allow exporting that data into a digital app.

    If the EU decides to go totally digital I can see this being a huge issue. BTW I spent 30 years in healthcare IT and have no idea how this would work – most people don’t even recognize it would be a problem.

  4. It really sucks! Us can explore whole Europe but vice versa borders keeps closed.. am i the only one who doesnt understand? I mean what is the difference ? All us residents stay here and return homewards?

  5. I am flying in on a United flight to London transiting through LHR to catch a BA flight 6 hrs later to Rome in August. The rules are not clear on my entry to the EU through the UK. I am fully vaccinated and have a CDC record. Any news on transiting through the UK to the EU?

    1. If it’s airside, it’s easy. If not, it’s a huge pain. If you cross the border, you’ll need one of the testing packages, if coming from an amber list country, which the USA presently is (at time of writing).

  6. Europe is not the EU! Entry requirements vary even with in EU countries, let alone non EU countries across the European continent.

  7. Hi – thanks for the helpful update. Do you have any sense when the US will allow UK and EU travelers? business or leisure – (at present I understand it is only residents or citizens) .

    1. The “hope” is that Biden will announce during G7 visit to Europe in the next couple weeks, either for immediate effect, or circa July 4th.

  8. Any updates on Ireland? I have tickets for July 5 from Warsaw but it looks like Ireland will not open until at least July19.

  9. Gilbert – this is good news and I want to thank you for continuing to cover this topic. You bring me far better, more complete information and more quickly than my travel advisor.

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