Malta’s Planned Travel ‘Vaccine Passports’ Will Only Be Valid For Six Months

COVID-19 vaccination certificates which Malta plans to roll out imminently will only be valid for six months, a legal notice has confirmed.

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci on Friday published the ‘Vaccination against COVID-19 Certificate Order’, which provides the legal groundwork for the processing of personal data ahead of the rollout.

The law states that people who have been fully vaccinated in Malta may ask Gauci to issue them with a vaccination certificate to enter a country outside the European Economic Area. It will be made available in digital or paper-based format and will only be valid for six months.

Vaccine certificates will include the following personal data:

People may request a new certificate if it expires, if it’s no longer available to them, or if the personal data contained in the certificate needs to be updated.

For statistics, research and audit purposes, the Superintendent of Public Health will be allowed to retain a record containing the unique vaccination certificate identifier, so long as its holder cannot be identified.

No personal data in relation to vaccination certificates can be further processed by the Superintendent for a purpose that goes beyond the scope of these regulations.

After consulting with the Superintendent, the Maltese government may enter into a bilateral agreement with a third country (a country not in the European Economic Area) with the scope of mutually recognizing each other’s certificates.

These bilateral agreements must follow GDPR regulations and any other international obligations, and the Superintendent must publish the agreements in the Government Gazette.

The legal notice also allows the vaccines to be issued and verified through “appropriate technical means based on a trust framework”, paving the way for the launch of a ‘vaccine passport’ app.

Such an app must ensure adequate security to safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, availability, and resilience of personal data.

This legal notice was published a day after the European Parliament voted in favour of vaccine travel certificates, which they’re now calling an ‘EU COVID-19 certificate’.

MEPs said the system should be in place for no longer than a year and that vaccine certificate holders will be exempt from travel restrictions such as quarantine, self-isolation and testing.

They also urged EU member states to “ensure universal, accessible, timely and free of charge testing” so as to avoid discrimination against those not vaccinated and for economic reasons.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has said he wants Malta to introduce this system before the start of June.

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