Cologne becomes first German city to offer Covid recovery certificates online

Cologne becomes first German city to offer Covid recovery certificates online
A sign in Cologne informs people of the '3G' Covid entry rules. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marius Becker
The German city of Cologne has just made it much easier for people to prove they've recovered from Covid-19 by offering a first-of-its-kind online certificate service.

Cologne residents who have had Covid and are therefore considered ‘recovered’ can now access their certificate of recovery via an online portal run by the City of Cologne.

Before the council introduced the new system, people had to go to their GP or pharmacy and prove their status by providing a positive PCR test in order to receive the certificate.

Cologne is the first municipality in Germany to offer this new service, which should make it easier for recovered people to prove they have Covid immunity in order to gain access to public indoor spaces.

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Since August 23rd, Germany has had a national ‘3G’ system in place – meaning that people need to show proof that they are vaccinated (geimpft), recovered (genesen) or have taken a Covid test (getestet) in order to enjoy facilities such as cinemas, restaurants and gyms. 

A number of states have switched to an optional ‘2G’ rule, meaning that only the vaccinated and recovered can enter certain venues. So far, however, North Rhine-Westphalia – where Cologne is located – has stopped short of introducing this rule. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are the Covid health pass rules across German states?

For the purposes of the 3G rule, people count as ‘recovered’ if they’ve had Covid no less than 28 days and no more than six months in the past – meaning the certificate could only be used within this window.

However, Cologne officials say that, after the six months has passed, the certificate can be used as proof of full recovery along with one Covid jab (rather than the usual two). 

Infection rates in North Rhine-Westphalia have been sinking dramatically in the past weeks, from a weekly incidence over 100 Covid cases per 100,000 people to 69 on Wednesday. This is just a few points above the national average, which as of Wednesday stood at 65.2 per 100,000 people. 

Getting the digital certificate in Cologne

Since May 2021, anyone who has tested positive for Covid in Cologne will have received a letter from the council about their personal recovery status.

This will contain an individualised “Recovery ID” (Genesen-ID). By entering this ID and some personal information on the Covid Recovery Portal, people who’ve recovered from Covid can get their certificate as a QR code – much like you might get from your local pharmacy after showing your vaccine pass.

This QR code can be scanned from the screen into the Corona Warn App or CovPass App using a mobile phone – though it is also possible to download or print out the certificate.


Under Cologne’s new system, people can eschew a trip to the pharmacy and generate their own QR code online, which can then be scanned into the CovPass app. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Puchner

Announcing the move, Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker described it as “another building block in our digital pandemic management”.

“Infection and recovery data of our citizens are first and foremost available in the municipal health department, so it was obvious for us as a digital city that we want to provide this new service directly for our citizens,” she added.

“It goes without saying that we are successfully working together with our experts from the city community.”

In order to launch the new system, Cologne City had to receive accreditation from the Federal Health Ministry to ensure that the certificates had the same level of forgery protection and value as other nationally issued health passes. This means they can be used EU wide. 

READ ALSO: Covid health pass: What can Germany learn from France?

Though Cologne is the first municipality to get this accreditation, it may not be the last. If other states and municipalities decide to follow suit, people who’ve recovered could be set to get their certificates of recovery at the click of a button in other cities and towns around the country. 


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