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Are you classed as fully vaccinated in the UK after having Covid and one jab in Germany?

The UK's rules for what counts as full vaccination holds different definitions to Germany. So what does it mean if you've had Covid and one jab?

Are you classed as fully vaccinated in the UK after having Covid and one jab in Germany?
Passengers at Munich airport this summer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

What’s this about?

The British government eased rules for many fully vaccinated travellers coming from the EU at the start of August. 

But UK travel rules during recent months have been tricky to understand, not least because there are different definitions of “fully vaccinated” compared to the EU. 

The British government’s strict definition of “fully vaccinated” is that it means having two injections of a double-dose vaccine, such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or AstraZeneca, or one injection of the single-dose Johnson&Johnson – while Germany and the EU also consider those who have recovered from the virus and who have had a single dose of any vaccine to be fully protected.

The same applies to people who had different vaccines for the two doses – known as Kreuzimpfung in Germany. This is considered normal, but the UK government insists that you are not ‘fully vaccinated’ unless both your doses were of the same brand.

READ ALSO:

People who fall into these categories are able to get the EU Covid pass in Germany.

In Germany, people who have one jab after a recent Covid infection are viewed as having the same level of immunity as someone who’s had two doses. 

The pass will say “vaccination 1 of 1” to show that it’s a considered a full course. The certificate also shows the date of vaccination, your name and date of birth. 

Germany is not the only country with this policy. France and other countries in Europe also consider someone to be fully vaccinated if they have had one jab after recovering from Covid.

Okay so do I have to quarantine?

These rules have led to some confusion over whether those in Germany who have been ill with coronavirus, recovered and had a booster injection can travel to the UK without having to quarantine for 10 days – and pay for two tests on day two and day eight. 

READ ALSO How to book that ‘Day Two’ Covid-19 test if you’re travelling from Germany to the UK

But there’s good news – if you fall into this category you currently do not have to quarantine because Germany is on the UK’s green list. 

That means that unvaccinated people can also avoid quarantine. While Germany is a green country, anyone travelling to the UK – regardless of vaccination status – only has to pay for the day two test. 

You should keep in mind that the UK will classify you as unvaccinated if you’ve had one shot after Covid, but it won’t be a huge problem. Likewise, you’ll also be classed as unvaccinated if you’ve had two shots from two different vaccines (so you’re kreuzgeimpft). 

READ ALSO: Germany added to the UK’s green list – what does it mean?

What if it changes?

It will be a major concern to many people if Germany is bumped up to the UK’s amber list again. As infections are rising in Germany, it’s not unlikely that this will happen in future. 

If Germany’s status changes to amber, vaccinated people will be able to skip the 10 day quarantine and two tests when arriving in the UK (but they will still need a day two test). Unvaccinated people (including the two categories we mention above) will not. 

What happens if I transit through an amber list country from Germany?

It’s important to note that if you travel through an amber list country – like France – to get to the UK, the amber list country rules will apply. 

The Local Germany reader Petrina got in touch with us to say she was worried about her travel plans because her husband had Covid last year and received a booster jab – and they were planning to travel from Germany through France. 

“We did not envisage that my husband would have to go into quarantine and that we would have to book the day two and eight day tests, having only booked the day two tests,” she said. “We will have to cancel many plans, and even think about cancelling as being in quarantine on holiday is no real holiday.”

The UK government says people “need to show an EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC), showing you’ve had a full course of an EMA or Swissmedic-approved vaccine”.

The below extract is also from the UK Government:

What have amber-list country embassies said?

Foreign embassies from current amber list countries have been flagging up this issue.

The British Embassy in Paris said in a recent post: “Natural immunity (i.e. having had Covid) plus one dose of vaccine under an approved European vaccination programme is not considered a full course, even if you are listed as fully vaccinated on your EU Digital COVID Certificate.

“You must have had both doses of an approved two-dose European vaccination programme (eg Vaxzevria/AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna) or the single dose of an approved single-dose European vaccination programme (eg Janssen).

“If you have only had one dose of a two-dose vaccine you will need to follow the rules for non-vaccinated arrivals, which includes tests before departure and on days 2 and 8, and 10 days’ quarantine.”

A message on the Facebook page of the British embassy in Spain says: “Please be aware that the UK does not recognise natural immunity for international travel at this time, but this will be kept under review. We know that the EU DCC does enable people to prove natural immunity.

“This is not currently accepted in the UK and quarantine and day 8 testing requirements will only be eased, for those who have been fully vaccinated in a relevant European country, with an EMA-approved vaccine,” it says.

The Local asked the UK government whether there is a chance this position will change. A spokeswoman confirmed the current rules but did not comment on whether they will change in future. 

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‘Double processing time’: Austria and Germany fear non-EU travellers face border delays

Germany, Austria and another of other countries in Europe's Schengen area admit they fear delays and insufficient time to test the process ahead of new, more rigorous EU border checks that will be introduced next year, a new document reveals.

'Double processing time': Austria and Germany fear non-EU travellers face border delays

Schengen countries are tightening up security at the external borders with the introduction of a new digital system (EES) to record the entry and exit of non-EU citizens in May 2023.

The EES will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. It will register the person’s name, type of the travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit. The data will be kept in a centralised database on a rolling three-year basis that is re-set at each entry. 

What the EES is intended to do is increase border security, including the enforcement of the 90-day short-stay limit for tourists and visitors. EU citizens and third-country nationals who reside in a country of the Schengen area will not be subject to such checks.

READ ALSO: Foreigners living in EU not covered by new EES border checks

But given its scale, the entry into operation of the system has been raising concerns on many fronts, including the readiness of the physical and digital infrastructure, and the time required for border checks, which could subsequently cause massive queues at borders.

A document on the state of preparations was distributed last week by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties.

The paper contains the responses from 21 member states to a questionnaire about potential impacts on passenger flows, the infrastructure put in place and the possibility of a gradual introduction of the new system over a number of months.

This is what certain the countries have responded. Responses from Denmark, Spain and Sweden do not appear in the report but the answers from other countries will be relevant for readers in those countries.

READ ALSO: What the EU’s new EES border check system means for travel

‘Double processing time’

Austria and Germany are the most vocal in warning that passport processing times will increase when the EES will become operational.

“The additional tasks resulting from the EES regulation will lead to a sharp increase in process times”, which are expected to “double compared to the current situation,” Austrian authorities say. “This will also affect the waiting times at border crossing points (in Austria, the six international airports),” the document continues.

“Furthermore, border control will become more complicated since in addition to the distinction between visa-exempt and visa-required persons, we will also have to differentiate between EES-required and EES-exempt TCN [third country nationals], as well as between registered and unregistered TCN in EES,” Austrian officials note.

Based on an analysis of passenger traffic carried out with the aviation industry, German authorities estimate that checking times will “increase significantly”.

France expects to be ready for the introduction of the EES “in terms of passenger routes, training and national systems,” but admits that “fluidity remains a concern” and “discussions are continuing… to make progress on this point”.

Italy is also “adapting the border operational processes… in order to contain the increased process time and ensure both safety and security”.

“Despite many arguments for the introduction of automated border control systems based on the need for efficiency, the document makes clear that the EES will substantially increase border crossing times,” Statewatch argues.

‘Stable service unlikely by May 2023’

The border infrastructure is also being adapted for collecting and recording the data, with several countries planning for automated checks. So what will change in practice?

Austria intends to install self-service kiosks at the airports of Vienna and Salzburg “in the course of 2023”. Later these will be linked to existing e-gates enabling a “fully automated border crossing”. Austrian authorities also explain that airport operators are seeking to provide more space for kiosks and queues, but works will not be completed before the system is operational.

Germany also plans to install self-service kiosks at the airports to “pre-capture” biometric data before border checks. But given the little time for testing the full process, German authorities say “a stable working EES system seems to be unlikely in May 2023.”

France will set up self-service kiosks in airports, where third-country nationals can pre-register their biometric data and personal information before being directed to the booth for verification with the border guard. The same approach will be adopted for visitors arriving by bus, while tablet devices such as iPads will be used for the registration of car passengers at land and sea borders.

Italy is increasing the “equipment of automated gates in all the main  airport” and plans to install, at least in the first EES phase, about 600 self-service kiosks at the airports of Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Venice and in those with “significant volumes of extra-Schengen traffic,” such as Bergamo, Naples, Bologna and Turin.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member but is part of the Schengen area, is also installing self-service kiosks to facilitate the collection of data. Norway, instead, will have “automated camera solutions operated by the border guards”, but will consider self-service options only after the EES is in operation.

Gradual introduction?

One of the possibilities still in consideration is the gradual introduction of the new system. The European Commission has proposed a ‘progressive approach’ that would allow the creation of “incomplete” passenger files for 9 months following the EES entry into operation, and continuing passport stamping for 3 months.

According to the responses, Italy is the only country favourable to this option. For Austria and France this “could result in more confusion for border guards and travellers”. French officials also argue that a lack of biometric data will “present a risk for the security of the Schengen area”.

France suggested to mitigate with “flexibility” the EES impacts in the first months of its entry into service. In particular, France calls for the possibility to not create EES files for third-country nationals who entered the Schengen area before the system becomes operational, leaving this task to when they return later.

This would “significantly ease the pressure” on border guards “during the first three months after entry into service,” French authorities said.

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