Travel safely: 5 questions about the COVID certificate
The Belgian COVID passport has been available since 16 June. This document, either digital or printed, provides proof that its holder is ‘COVID-safe’ and is intended to make travelling within the European Union easier. As from 1 July, all EU countries will accept the certificate. Here is the essential information you need summed up in 5 questions:
1. What information does the COVID certificate contain?
The EU Digital COVID-19 certificate contains the name, date of birth, date of issue, information on the vaccination, corona test or recovery from COVID-19, and a unique QR code. To protect privacy, no other health data is shared.
The certificate is in English and the three national languages of Belgium (Dutch, French and German).
2. When will I receive my certificate?
The COVID passport actually includes three separate types of certificates.
- A vaccination certificate, which proves that you have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Most countries only accept a certificate after a person has been fully vaccinated (i.e. after two shots; the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only vaccine for which one shot is sufficient). Usually, there is also a waiting period of several weeks following the day on which you became fully vaccinated. The vaccination certificate is valid for one year from the day following your last vaccination.
- A test certificate shows that you tested negative for corona. This test is valid for 72 hours, counting from when the test was taken. But because it takes a while to get your result, a test certificate is usually only valid for 24 to 48 hours. Please note that some countries only accept a PCR test.
- A recovery certificate shows that you have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past 6 months and have therefore built up sufficient immunity. This recovery certificate is valid from 11 days after a positive test, and remains valid for 180 days from the date upon which the test was taken. You are not eligible for a recovery certificate without a positive test.
You may have more than one certificate, as you will receive a separate certificate for each test and vaccination (both your first and second shot).
3. How do I apply for a corona certificate?
You can apply for a certificate in a number of ways:
- Via the free CovidSafeBE app and at Covidsafe.be. You need either your ID card, PIN code and a card reader, or another digital key such as the itsme app.
- By post. For this option, call 078/78 78 50 if you are living in Flanders. If living in Brussels, call 02/214 19 19. Residents of Wallonia can call 071/31 34 93. Please remember that it will take a week before you receive your certificate in the post.
4. When and where can I use the corona certificate?
The corona passport is already available in Belgium, but the corona certificate will not enter in use by all Member States of the European Union (and Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) until 1 July.
Even after 1 July, the rules may still vary from one country or region to another. Be sure to check the website of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs or Reopen.europa.eu. If you plan to travel across more than one border, please check the rules for each country.
When travelling abroad, be sure to have your certificate at hand. Download it on your smartphone or tablet and have a printed or paper copy as a back-up.
5. What happens when I return from holiday?
The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) will remain mandatory after 1 July. Please fill it in at least 48 hours before your arrival in Belgium.
If you return from a green or orange zone after that date, you will not have to go into quarantine or get tested. People returning from a red zone will not have to go into quarantine, provided that they have a certificate. Please note that if you have not been fully vaccinated for a fortnight or are unable to provide a recovery certificate, you must be able to show proof of a new negative PCR test that is no more than 72 hours old. However, you will remain in quarantine while waiting for the result of this test (usually 24 hours).
Finally, there are the very high-risk zones, where, for example, there is a major outbreak of a new variant. If you are returning from such a zone, you will be required to spend 10 days in quarantine and take a test on days 1 and 7. Even if you are fully vaccinated.
More information can be found at covidsafe.be. Discover our infographic with more tips on how to travel safely.