EXPLAINER: All you need to know about using the EU Covid cert for pubs, travel and more
The EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate (DCC) officially came into force in Ireland on Monday, July 19. Here's a quick refresher on what it is, what it does and how to get one.
Remind me what it is again?
The EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate (DCC), which came into force throughout the rest of the EU on 1 July, is designed to make safe travel easier by providing proof that the holder has either:
- Been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with one of the approved vaccines (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson)
- Received a negative test in the last day or two (PCR for Ireland, but other European countries accept certain types of antigen tests)
- Recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months
The DCC will be a QR code that will be available digitally on a smart device or on a piece of paper. In Ireland, they will be issued by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) based on information provided to it by the HSE.
What information does it include?
The DCC will only include details of your vaccination status, test result or recent recovery from Covid-19. If you've been vaccinated, it will include details of the specific vaccine you received and on what dates. If you've had a negative test it will include details of that test.
Otherwise, the only personal details will be the holder's full name, date of birth and a unique identifier code.
Where is it valid?
Holders can use the cert to enter the rest of the EU and six non-EU countries that have opted into the system - Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, and Vatican City.
What about the UK?
Travel between Ireland and the UK is covered by the Common Travel Area: there are no restrictions on travel from Ireland to the UK, while existing restrictions on travel from the UK to Ireland - a negative PCR test and a 10-day period of restricted movement - will be lifted next Monday, 19 July.
I'm Irish but I live in a non-EU country; can I get a DCC?
Afraid not. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the DCC is "not related to your citizenship."
If you qualify, you must apply for the Digital Covid certificate of the country in which you reside and - presumably - either received a vaccination in, gotten a negative test in or recovered from Covid in.
Over 400,000 Irish citizens reside in the UK, but they can use the NHS's own digital Covid certificate for travel through the EU.
So who is getting them this week?
From July 12, the government began issuing DCCs to around 1.9 million people who have already been vaccinated.
The government says that from 14 July, 25,000 certs are issued daily.
One million who were vaccinated through the HSE's vaccination portal will get theirs through the same email address they used when registering for the vaccine. The 900,000 or so who were vaccinated through a pharmacy or GP will get their certs through the post.
I'm due one, but haven't gotten it; who can I talk to?
The government is setting up a Digital Covid Certificate helpline and website to assist with all related queries, but no date has been given for when those resources will go live.
Until then there is no mechanism to request one; the ones being sent out this week are being sent automatically.
How can I get a DCC with a negative test?
If you've taken a test at an approved private testing facility, the DCC will be issued to you there.
You must take a PCR test up to 72 hours before you travel; antigen tests must be taken up to 48 hours before departure.
However, not all countries will accept antigen tests as proof of a negative test, including Ireland - so make sure you check your destination's specific requirements before you travel.
Also, to make it even more confusing, countries' requirements are fluid and subject to change, so be sure to get the most updated information you can.
Best place for that information is the EU's Re-Open EU site, which is updated every day.
I got Covid in the last six months; how do I get a DCC?
You won't be issued a certificate automatically so you'll have to contact the call centre for one.
If your positive test for Covid-19 came through the HSE's own free testing facility, then your records should be easily accessible.
The HSE says it has the records of over 170,000 people who have recovered from the virus.
But wait - I got my positive result through a private testing facility, so what can I do?
In this case, the situation could be a little more complicated. However, the number of people who were tested privately is thought to be relatively small, and most of these were referred to the HSE, who then would have a record of the positive test.
The government is not overly worried, though: Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne was asked about this and he said that "practically everybody" who's had a positive test had theirs through the HSE.
So will I need a DCC to travel to the EU?
No - and this is a point worth stressing. The DCC is not a compulsory document for travel. It only serves to speed up travel checks and make travelling that bit easier without the need for any kind of quarantine.
Minister for State Ossian Smyth said: "If for any reason you don't have a certificate, you can still travel on your existing documentation. If you can show evidence that you've been vaccinated, or that you've been tested, you can still travel. So it's not a prerequisite for travel, you don't have to have a Digital Covid Cert to travel, but it does make it faster.”
If you have had Covid but don't have a DCC, you may need a letter from a doctor saying that you've recovered. The letter is valid for up to 180 days after you tested positive.
Will I need a DCC to go to my local pub?
The government has finally announced that indoor dining and drinking in Ireland will return - but we're not entirely sure when, although it's been widely speculated that it's aiming for 23 July.
What we do know, though, is that in order to dine or drink indoors customers will need to produce “verifiable evidence of vaccination or immunity status,” which for most will be the DCC.
Staff at the venue will check the DCC and match it to the holder's ID - which explains why some people are already labelling the DCC as the 'wine cert.'
Information compiled by Fionn Davenport, Editor of Irish Travel Trade Network (ITTN)
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