Greece on Friday presented its version of the EU Digital COVID Certificate, the document that aims to make travelling within the European Union easier.
Proposed by the European Commission in March and based on an idea of the Greek PM, the EU Digital COVID Certificate (also referred to as a “digital green certificate” or “green pass”) can be used by travelers as proof that they have either been vaccinated against Covid-19, have a negative test result or have recovered from the virus.
It should be made clear that it will not be obligatory to have an EU Digital COVID Certificate in order to travel. Its purpose is to make it easier for people to cross European internal borders without facing additional travel restrictions.
“The EU Digital COVID Certificate for us as technologists is one of the greatest interoperability projects in the EU… It’s a ‘burning platform’, a first significant instance where the basic systems across the EU can start interoperating in the health sector or any other sectors as well, of course always with fundamental guarantees for data privacy, security and trust,” Greek Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis said.
Greece began working on its version of the certificate in March, once the EU provided its member states with the tools for the certificate to be common for EU countries. A verification platform was also provided which offers states the technology to verify that these documents across the continent are original.
Following an official dry run test that took place between Greece, Germany and Iceland in mid-May, Greece is now considered technically ready to implement the certificate system.
“Today we are very proud to say that we are ready on our behalf to deploy the Greek version of the platform,” Pierrakakis said and gave a step by step presentation on how the platform will work.
How Greece residents can issue their EU Digital COVID Certificate
Once the platform goes officially live, residents of Greece will be able to get their EU Digital COVID Certificates through the www.gov.gr website and logging in by using their tax number (AFM) and social security number (AMKA).
The following information will be included on the certificates: name, date of birth, date of issue, vaccination details, negative diagnostic results, or recovery info.
The certificates will contain a QR code with a digital signature aimed at protecting from forgery which will be verified on the Commission’s EU Gateway portal.
The EU Digital COVID Certificate will be free of charge, available in paper or digital format and be issued in English and the language of the holder’s country.
The issued certificates will be valid in all EU Member States and for Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, and will ensure the holder will not be subject to restrictions or quarantine.
Greece will integrate the certificate in its PLF platform
During the presentation, Pierrakakis said that Greece’s EU Digital COVID Certificate will be integrated with the country’s Passenger Locator Form (PLF), the document travelers from abroad must have submitted before their trip to Greece.
He also added that tourists in Greece will also be able to issue a new certificate if they take a PCR test in Greece (before they are to depart back home).
“One challenge that we had was for those that will have conducted the PCR test (prior to entry), as it expires after 72 hours. So the question becomes ‘How can a tourist be issued a new COVID certificate after having spent a significant period of time in a member state?’… In our case, we will use the PLF, we will match it with the capacities of the EU and will be able to issue Greek digital certificates for tourists if they take their test in Greece,” Pierrakakis said.
PM: Greece will launch the certificate earlier than July 1
During the presentation, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred to the certificate as a “complicated interoperability tool” that integrates national data into an EU platform in a safe and protected manner.
The Greek PM highlighted that the certificate includes all the information that a member state would need to welcome a traveler without imposing additional restrictions.
“We as Greece will be ready to launch this digital certificate earlier than July 1 and of course we encourage every member state to make sure that we stick to the deadlines,” he said, adding that the certificate’s purpose is not to divide citizens.
“The EU certificate is nothing more than a fast travel lane. It will make travel much easier especially during the summer… This initiative represents the very best of Europe-wide cooperation,” he concluded.
On his part, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, noted that the EU Digital COVID Certificate is a significant European achievement.
“It is so important to demonstrate that we are able to guarantee the free movement of citizens after this Covid crisis,” he said.
European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas referred to the certificate as a “remarkable European success” and highlighted the fact that the idea originated in Greece.
“This product has a strong Hellenic color not only because Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was the first to launch the idea in early January… but also because the Greek preparation, the Greek platform, is one of the first to be functionally ready, very much along the lines of the Greek recovery plan, which was also ready amongst the first. So this is more proof that things go well in this country,” he said, wishing everybody “open and safe mobility” across Europe.
It should be clarified that:
- No one will be obliged to use the EU Digital COVID Certificate. It is not obligatory to have in order to travel.
- The EU Digital COVID Certificate is not a travel document nor a precondition for travel. It aims to make it easier for people to cross European internal borders without facing additional travel restrictions.
- Everyone’s rights over their data would be protected in line with the EU’s strict General Data Protection Rules.
Further information on Greece’s EU Digital COVID Certificate is expected to be released once its platform is activated on the www.gov.gr website.