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EXPLAINED: How to get your digital Covid vaccine pass in Germany for EU travel

The EU digital Covid pass launched on July 1st and should make travel within the EU much smoother. How can you get it in Germany?

EXPLAINED: How to get your digital Covid vaccine pass in Germany for EU travel
The EU Covid-19 certificate in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Puchner

So Germany (and other EU countries) have a digital vaccination certificate. What is it?

You have to be fully jabbed to use the digital vaccination certificate (known in Germany as the Impfpass or Impfnachweis). You can upload the certificate to your phone – either in the CovPass app or the Corona Warn app. And two weeks after your last jab, you’re good to go. 

It will also soon be possible to store negative test results and recovery from Covid certificates on the Covid health pass. This next stage of development should be completed by the end of June, according to the Health Ministry.

Users of the digital vaccination passport will likely be exempt from testing and quarantine obligations when travelling if they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid.

However, EU countries will continue to decide for themselves on travel restrictions. So it may be that tougher rules are brought in if Covid cases rise or new variants spread. 

READ ALSO:

Where can I get it?

When you go for your jabs, the digital proof of vaccination should be generated in the doctor’s office or in the vaccination centre. You’ll receive a paper certificate with a code on it that can be scanned into your phone. You’ll typically receive a code for each jab, and both can be scanned into your smartphone. 

For those who’ve already had their shots from vaccination centres, the centres should send out the QR codes in the post or make them available through an online portal. Check with your local authority on what procedure is in place. 

If you have been previously vaccinated at a doctor’s practice, the doctor should issue you with the certificate. But if they don’t manage to, you can also visit participating pharmacies for it.

Pharmacy staff can check your evidence of vaccination, plus photo ID (like a passport), and then issue you with the QR code. 

How does it work?

People in Germany download the CovPass app to scan the vaccination certificates (QR codes). This way, they can show their full vaccination coverage via QR code in the app when needed.

An update is also being made to the Corona Warn app, which also offers the option of scanning and managing the digital vaccination certificates (QR codes).

Residents should keep the issued QR codes to be able to scan them again if necessary (e.g. when changing cell phones).

READ ALSO: German pharmacies begin offering digital vaccination certificates

Note that currently the CovPass app is only available on the German iTunes Store. But that is likely to be extended to other app stores. As we mentioned, you can also upload it to the Corona Warn app. 

So I have my pass. Can I use it for travel?

The German Health Ministry confirmed to The Local that the digital certificate can be used for travel within the EU. For countries outside the EU it won’t be possible to use the digital proof of vaccination just yet – but that might change in future. 

A Health Ministry spokesperson told us: “The pass can be used for trips to other EU countries. Talks are currently underway at international level for recognition in countries outside the EU.”

You can also use it for proof of vaccination in Germany, for example at restaurants or for events. 

What is the aim of the EU pass?

According to the EU the digital Covid certificate “will facilitate safe free movement of citizens in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Essentially that means no quarantine measures or need to supply negative Covid tests before or after travel.

The idea is that the document – which can be on paper or stored electronically on smartphones – will carry proof via a QR code that the holder has either:

  • been vaccinated against Covid-19
  • recently recovered from the virus (meaning the holder has antibodies in their system)
  • recently tested negative for Covid 

This proof can be shown to whoever requires it, whether border police or airline and rail officials.

The certificates should be free and come in both English and the national language where they are distributed, the EU says. They are being distributed now within countries across the bloc. 

It’s worth noting that the Covid certificates are not compulsory for travel within the EU, but those who travel without it will likely be subject to whatever requirements are in place around testing and quarantine.

From Thursday July 1st it will be rolled out across the EU and Schengen area and possibly after that non-EU/Schengen countries like the UK and the US will become part of the scheme to allow for smooth travel between those countries and member states

Germany recently opened up travel to the US, and several non-EU countries – with some conditions. 

For more details read our explainer:

How does the new EU Covid certificate work and how can I get one?

What about if I have a foreign vaccination certificate?

In Germany, you may be able to access the digital pass if you take your foreign vaccination pass to a pharmacy and ask them to convert it for you. The prerequisite is that it must be a vaccine approved in the EU. That currently is BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson.

But it really is at the pharmacy’s discretion on whether you get it or not. We’ve heard from readers that they have managed to get the digital pass if they check with several different pharmacies – so you could get lucky on that front. 

READ MORE: How I got Germany’s new digital CovPass with my American vaccine certificate

The official line from the German government is that there is no formal agreement in place for recognising foreign vaccine certificates. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Who benefits from Germany’s €9 public transport ticket offer?

With Germany set to roll out the €9 monthly transport ticket soon, we looked at how it could benefit you (or not) - whether you're a car owner, tourist or a day tripper.

Who benefits from Germany's €9 public transport ticket offer?

For just €9 a month, passengers will be able to travel by bus, train and tram on local and regional transport throughout Germany over summer.

The ticket, which is in place for three months from June, is an unprecedented attempt to relieve German residents financially amid spiralling inflation, and to convince car owners to switch to more climate-friendly choices.

This Thursday, the Bundestag (German federal parliament) will make a final decision on the financing aspect to it, and on Friday it will go to the Bundesrat, which represents the 16 states.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block €9 ticket

Supporters see a great opportunity for more climate-friendly transport, while critics fear a flash in the pan and warn that overcrowded buses and trains are more likely to scare off potential new users. Of course, people with less disposable income will be helped most by this offer. But which other groups will actually benefit from the €9 ticket?

Long-term public transport customers (ÖPNV-Stammkunden)

If you have a subscription – known as an Abo in Germany – for local transport with a monthly or annual ticket, the ticket is a huge boost. That’s because you will only be charged €9 for the months of June, July and August or you’ll receive a refund or credit note. Many transport associations even hope to gain permanent subscription customers with the the lure of three low-cost months.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

Car commuters (Auto-Pendler)

In a survey by Germany’s KfW, three quarters of households that use a car said they would consider switching regularly to buses and trains. So those who are well served by public transport, and who have suitable bus and rail connections to work, may well decide to make the switch because of the cheap offer. This will especially benefit people in large and medium-sized towns. 

If this is you, you’ll definitely save cash by leaving your car at home and taking public transport. The €9 monthly ticket costs less than 50 cents per working day. You won’t get back and forth by car to your destination that cheaply, even if the cut on fuel tax comes as planned.

READ ALSO: How many people will use the €9 ticket?

People driving to and from Cologne.

People driving to and from Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser

Day trippers (Ausflügler)

For many day trips and weekends away, and even for some longer holidays in Germany, it can be worth buying a car. But the €9 ticket does hold the promise of offering excursions throughout the country, as long as you use regional trains since long-distance trains – like the high speed ICE – are not included. 

The Local has even gathered some of the best trips possible with the ticket, and tourism is expected to see a big boost. However, at the start and end of long weekends, such as the upcoming Whitsun (June 5th and 6th) and Corpus Christi (June 16th) in some states, the passenger association Pro Bahn expects chaos on trains heading for the coast and mountains. So perhaps choose your times to travel wisely. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

Residents in villages and small towns (Dorfbewohner)

As some Local readers have pointed out, the low-cost ticket for public transport is not so much use if buses – or even trains – rarely stop at the place you live. This is the case in many villages across Germany. According to calculations by the railway subsidiary Loki, many rural stops don’t even have an hourly service. 

Drivers can save on fuel and parking fees with a €9 ticket, but you need the transport connections to be able to benefit from it. Otherwise you’ll have to shell out more on taxis on top of the public transport cost. 

Cyclists (Radfahrer)

First thing first, the €9 ticket does not include a bike ticket, so you’ll have to buy one if you want to board a train with your bicycle. However, even if you buy a ticket for your bike to carry alongside your €9 ticket, the quality of your trip will very much depend on the day and time of travel, as well as the route you’re going on.

It often gets cramped on trains for passengers with bicycles, plus the number of bike parking spaces is limited. If it gets too crowded, train staff can decide not to let any more people with bikes on – even if you already have a ticket.

Trains are expected to be very busy during summer because of the low-cost ticket offer. Some operators are asking people not to take bikes on board. Berlin and Brandenburg operator VBB, for instance, urged all passengers to refrain from taking bikes with them during the campaign period and recommends travelling outside of rush hours. 

A cyclist enjoys a break in Ingelheim, Rhineland-Palatinate.

A cyclist enjoys a break in Ingelheim, Rhineland-Palatinate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

Tourists (Touristen)

A group that will definitely benefit form this ticket is people visiting Germany. The ticket costs €9 per calendar month (so €27 in total). But a single day ticket in Munich costs €8.20 normally (and even more depending on the zone). In Berlin, a single day ticket costs €8.80. So even if you’re staying in Germany for two days, if you plan to be on public transport, you’ll get a good deal. 

READ ALSO: What tourists to Germany need to know about reduced-price public transport

Families (Familien)

According to Deutsche Bahn, 6-to 14-year-olds need their own €9 ticket or another ticket; as free transport is excluded from the cheaper transport offer.

Children under six do, however, generally travel free of charge. If you have a lot of children and only want to make a one-off trip, you may be better off with a normal ticket; it includes free travel for children up to the age of 14. For this one, it’s best to check on the local public transport provider’s options before you commit to the €9 ticket. 

Long-distance travellers and commuters (Fernreisende und Fernpendler)

As we mentioned above, the €9 ticket is not valid for long-distance travel, whether on ICE, Intercity and Eurocity, or the night trains of different providers, or on Flixtrain or Flixbus.

The DB long-distance ticket also includes the so-called City Ticket in 130 German cities: free travel to the station and on to the destination by public transport. So if you have this ticket, the €9 ticket is probably not needed.

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