Since the middle of summer, a lot of potential vacationers have been little by little concerned with the issue of obtaining "covid certificates" that allow one to freely travel outside the country. What is a covid certificate and where can one get it?
Covid certificate for travelling around the world and Ukraine
A covid certificate is an electronic (in some cases—a paper) document one can easily travel across the EU countries with. Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration of Ukraine, calls the certificate "a small visa-free access", since its electronic version is recognized by the EU countries as a document that meets all international standards.
The covid certificate indicates information about the vaccination of its owner, as well as data on the immunity after the recovering from coronavirus or on a negative PCR test. It is issued only after a full course of vaccines against Covid-19 was made. The developers argue that it is impossible to forge such a document, since it is protected by the electronic signature of the owner and is available, accordingly, only to them.
As for the hard copy with a rubber stamp (this version can also be obtained), most European countries do not consider them valid, although at the level of our state it is considered absolutely official, and some countries consider such a document as proof of vaccination (for example, Turkey, Hungary, and Bulgaria ). A paper certificate can be obtained from your family doctor without any problem.
There is practically no difference between paper and electronic certificates. The first variant contains the owner’s first and last name, as well as information about vaccination, date of birth, unique document number and its validity period. In the second variant, the above mentioned information is supplemented by the first and last name in Latin letters, as well as information about the recovery from illness/test, the authorized institution that issued the document, and the issuing country.
By the way, the certificate is valid for 180 days from the date of its issue, but the Ministry of Digital Transformation is also talking about the possibility of introducing short-term certificates for 72 hours for short trips that will be issued on the basis of negative PCR tests and the presence of antibodies. Whether such certificates will be suitable for travel abroad is still unknown.
Mstyslav Banik, Director of eServices Development Directorate at the Ministry of Digital Policy, also notes that there will be two certificates—internal and international. With the international one, in general, everything is clear. But citizens of Ukraine will be able to use the internal one to travel around the country in the event of a new wave of a pandemic. Of course, the Cabinet of Ministers will approve new quarantine regulations depending on the threat level, as it has already approved the "yellow" zone, and resolve the issue of internal certificates. For example, now when you go to the cinema you may be asked to show a vaccination certificate.
What vaccines are allowed to use for vaccination to obtain a certificate
At the moment, all vaccines used in Ukraine are recognized by the WHO. But there are nuances. The EU has only approved Pfizer and AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccines. It should also be borne in mind that the Indian drug Covishield is manufactured under the license of AstraZeneca also manufactured as well. And it is not approved by the EU, but the issue is in the process of being resolved, according to the EMA. So far, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Estonia, Greece, and Slovenia are available for entry for those who have been vaccinated with an Indian drug.
The main problem with the WHO recommendations regarding covid certificates is precisely that these are just recommendations, not clear-cut regulations. This means that each country is free to consider them and make its own adjustments to the entry regulations for foreign tourists. Since these rules change very quickly, it is best, when planning your trip, to look through the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for the regulations in the destination country.
How to get a covid certificate for a trip to Europe
After the beta testing phase that lasted until mid-summer, all interested Ukrainians can upload their certificates in the application Diia from August 20 (make sure that your application is updated to the latest version). You need to upload your certificate manually, this function is not yet available automatically.
First, you need to make sure that your vaccination information is uploaded to eHealth. The first thing you need is an electronic signature that can be generated directly in the application by means of photo-identification. To download the certificate, you need to open the application and go to the submenu "Services", then select the item "Covid certificates", and then —"Get certificate".
This will be followed by an agreement on the transfer of personal data, confirmation of the certificate and signature (button "Sign up"). The final step in downloading the certificate will be the automatic generation of a QR code the border services can verify the authenticity of your certificate with (the code will be available even without an Internet connection). When the entire procedure is completed, the certificate will appear in the application along with the rest of the digital documents.
Sometimes Android smartphone users have problems downloading certificates. In particular, most of the problems are related to the electronic signature. So far, such problems are also solved only manually. The developers attribute this to the fact that mainly IOS users took part in the beta testing, and therefore some system bugs surface only now. However, all problems should be resolved in the first half of autumn.