Reader question: Can tourists in Germany get the digital vaccine certificate?
Germany has been rolling out its digital vaccine certificate aimed at making travel easier. Can visitors to the country get it?
Germany has been opening up its borders to more countries recently as vaccinations have ramped up and the Covid situation eased. But many people are still unsure of what documents they need to enter Germany and what is accepted.
One of the aspects that our readers have been asking about is the digital vaccine pass.
Germany launched its version of the EU digital vaccination certificate in June.
People who are fully jabbed can go to a pharmacy with evidence of their vaccination and photo ID and receive the digital vaccine pass (known in Germany as the Impfpass or Impfnachweis).
It comes in the form of a QR code printed on paper that can be scanned onto an app in your smartphone. The paper document with the code on it can also be used for scanning if people do not have a smartphone.
Those vaccinated in a centre or at a doctor's clinic may receive the QR code from the medics there. But if not, most pharmacies are now giving out the digital passes.
It is intended to make travel smoother in the EU. Users of the digital vaccination passport are more likely to be exempt from testing and quarantine obligations when travelling in the bloc if they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid.
However, EU countries will continue to decide for themselves on travel restrictions so you have to keep an eye on regional travel restrictions.
The aim is to coordinate digital certificates with other countries to eventually facilitate more international travel.
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- German pharmacies begin offering digital vaccination certificates
Can I get this digital certificate if I've been vaccinated somewhere else?
Many people in Germany got their shots elsewhere for several reasons. For example, the German vaccine rollout was slow to start off with and some people decided to go to their home country for the jabs. Others split their time in different countries and got their vaccine in another location.
In Germany, you may be able to get 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 is at the pharmacy’s discretion on whether you get the digital pass or not. We’ve heard from readers who have managed to get the digital certificate after checking at several pharmacies – so you could get lucky on that front.
What about if I'm a tourist visiting Germany?
We've had a few questions from readers asking if they are able to get the digital vaccine certificate when visiting Germany.
The Local asked the German Health Ministry if it is possible for visitors not living in the Bundesrepublik to get the digital pass at a pharmacy if they bring their vaccination card and ID.
A Health Ministry spokesman said it is only possible if the person is based in Germany.
The spokesman said: "Subsequent issuance of digital certificates is only possible if the vaccination was administered with a vaccine approved by the EMA and the person concerned has, for example, his or her permanent residence or permanent employment in Germany. This is checked by the service provider on site in each individual case."
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Do I need it if I'm visiting Germany?
No, the EU digital vaccine pass is not compulsory in Germany for anyone.
If you have not been vaccinated in Germany and need to provide proof of full vaccination on arrival to the country, the government says the EU digital Covid pass - or comparable proof of vaccination in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish - can be presented. It can be in written or digital form.
A photo of a vaccine certificate will not be suitable.
This certificate should include the following information:
- The personal data of the vaccinated person (at least first and last name plus your date of birth)
- The date/s of vaccination and number of vaccination doses
- The name of the vaccine (must be EMA-approved)
- The name of the disease against which the person was vaccinated
- The name and address of the person or institution responsible for vaccinating the person
- Confirmation in written or electronic form with the qualified electronic signature or qualified electronic seal of the person who carried out the vaccination; if for administrative reasons this is not possible, a suitable format such as a stamp or state symbols should be used to clearly identify the responsible person or institution.
At the moment there is no formal agreement between EU countries and the US (or any other non-EU countries) for fully jabbed people to receive a digital vaccination certificate.
As we mentioned above, it can be possible to get it depending on the pharmacy - but the Health Ministry said this is only for German residents at this time.