Germany’s digital vaccine pass to be rolled out ‘step by step’ from Thursday

Germany is to begin rolling out its digital vaccine certificate and new Covid health app this week. Here's what we know so far.

Germany's digital vaccine pass to be rolled out 'step by step' from Thursday
A woman receiving her vaccine in Stuttgart on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

“The digital vaccination pass will now be rolled out step by step and will be available in the apps,” a spokesman from the German Health Ministry said. Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is to give more details on Thursday, he added. 

The certificate is intended to allow fully vaccinated people to prove their immunity via a smartphone without always having to carry their yellow vaccination book with them. This could be useful when visiting restaurants or cultural events where proof of vaccination is required.

The existing Corona Warning app can be used for the digital pass, and a separate app is also to be offered (more on that below). Starting in July, people with Germany’s digital pass will also be able to use it for cross-border travel as part of the EU-wide ‘Covid health pass’ scheme.

People who have not been fully vaccinated will also be able to upload proof of negative Covid tests or recovery from Covid onto the apps. 

READ ALSO: German pharmacies to start offering digital vaccine certificates from next week

What do we know so far?

Anyone who has been fully inoculated against coronavirus, tests negatively for Covid-19 or has recovered from an infection can upload it to the new ‘CovApp’ with a QR code. 

However, proof of being fully vaccinated can also be loaded on to Germany’s existing Corona Warning app, that was set up to warn people when they’ve come into contact with someone who has Covid-19.

Experts estimate that the Corona-Warn app is actively used by around 25 million people. People can already log their Covid test results onto the app. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s coronavirus warning app to show ‘vaccine passport’ in future

Germany has been trialling the new digital vaccination certificate in test centres over the past few weeks. Some people receiving their jabs are being given a certificate with a QR code that can be scanned with their smartphone onto an app. That will be rolled out nationwide over the coming weeks. 

From next Monday people who have already been vaccinated can visit certain pharmacies with proof of their inoculation and request the digital certificate with the QR code. 


Germany is also considering other ways of getting the digital certificate out to people who’ve already been vaccinated. That could involve people requesting it from the doctor where they received the jab, or centres may send the certificate out at a later date. We expect more details on this soon. 

Those who don’t have a smartphone can also use the print out of the digital vaccination certificate as proof. The digital pass is not mandatory, however, and people can still use their paper vaccination booklet as proof if they don’t want to opt in to the digital scheme.

Just under 19 million people have been fully vaccinated in Germany so far. 

Countries in the EU have been developing their own procedures for the Covid health app. The aim is to enable restriction-free travel within the EU from the beginning of the summer season on July 1st. 

The European Parliament on Wednesday announced its authorisation of the use of digital Covid certificates within the EU. They say it is up to member states to apply the rules.

READ ALSO: A million Europeans obtain EU Covid health pass ahead of vote


Digital vaccination pass – (der) digitale Impfpass 

Fully vaccinated (people) – vollständig Geimpfte 

Immunisation – (die) Immunisierung 

Proof of vaccination (der) Impfnachweis 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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Freudenfreude: Why we should all embrace this made-up German word

The term 'Freudenfreude' was recently identified by mistake as a German word. Here's why that is not such a bad thing.

Freudenfreude: Why we should all embrace this made-up German word

The German word Schadenfreude – or joy at another person’s misfortune – is widely used in the English-speaking world, where it was adopted over 150 years ago. But its opposite, Freudenfreude, is a new, and somewhat accidental, invention.

On November 25th, a San Francisco-based psychologist penned an article for the New York Times on how we need more Freudenfreude – a supposedly commonly used German word meaning joy at the happiness of another person, even if we don’t share that same happiness ourselves. 

A few international media outlets then heralded the “German“ concept, until the word got out (quite literally) in Germany. Some scorned the author’s mistake, while others praised her for inadvertently enriching die deutsche Sprache

“Since language is something that’s very much alive, you can always be happy when a new word appears somewhere,“ wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung. 

The Munich-based newspaper pointed out how other now-popular German words “took a while until they were finally widely used” – and then were often incorporated into other languages’ vernaculars when they lacked a similar word.

READ ALSO: ‘6 German words I now use in English’

Let’s face it: sometimes to sum up a concept in English (or Spanish or Slovenian or whatever our language) we need a word in German, even if it doesn’t exist yet. 

The now ubiquitous Wanderlust, a desire for travel, or Zeitgeist, spirit of the times, were also once made-up words that could only be neatly described by placing two German nouns together.

The same goes for Freudenfreude. Sure, we have “empathy”, but that also could mean feeling someone‘s pain during a sad moment, not just their joy during good times. Otherwise, we could say we’re happy for someone, but why use three words when it can be so neatly summed up in one?

We still don’t have a single, snappy word that describes when your good friend passes the important test you failed a week ago, and you still feel proud that she’s making progress. Or that feeling that even though life is not going right for you right now, someone else’s success shows that it still can.

A few days after the New York Times article was published, the newspaper ran a correction on the article that Freudenfreude is not a German word.

But by that point, it was already on the path to becoming one.

READ ALSO: 10 German words that English should adopt