We gathered the most frequently asked questions and asked Henrik Hololei, Director-General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission, and Raavo Järva, Head of the Tallinn border crossing point of the Police and Border Guard Board, to help us out in responding to them.
Henrik Hololei, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport:
EU digital certificate entered into force from 1 July. What does it actually change?
The EU COVID digital certificate is accepted by all EU Member States, and in addition also in Liechtenstein, Island and Norway. I believe that this will make a significant contribution to making travel in Europe easier and more predictable. The purpose of the digital certificate is to facilitate movement, but it is not a prerequisite for travel.
Do all EU Member States have to join and implement the digital certificate?
All EU Member States must join the digital certificate and accept it and for today, already more than 200 million certificates have been created.
The country of destination may unexpectedly impose new restrictions where the digital certificate cannot help. So, what are the advantages and benefits of this digital certificate for the passenger?
Yes, it is true that Member States always have the right to impose additional restrictions, referring to public health, but they must still be based on scientific facts and be proportionate. Compared to previous times, digital proof makes travel much more convenient. The passenger can be sure that his or her digital certificate – be it on paper or electronic – will definitely be accepted. Also, an information portal Re-open EU has been created, which allows checking the requirements in force in different countries before traveling.
How long is the digital certificate valid? If I travel regularly, do I have to recreate it every time?
A digital certificate is a certificate confirming that a person has either:
- been vaccinated against COVID-19,
- tested negative (PCR test: 72 hours), or
- recovered from COVID-19 (180 days as of the positive test).
There is no maximum period of validity for vaccination certificates, as this depends on the new scientific evidence on the duration of protection of different vaccines.
What is the EU’s longer-term plan for facilitating the free movement of people?
I personally hope that vaccination continues successfully throughout the Europe and world and the people will be able to move freely and the everyday life of all of us will be restored. This means that as many people as possible will be vaccinated. Only then we can get our normal lives back.
Are there plans to develop the EU Covid digital certificate or a similar certificate for the movement outside the EU?
Yes, most definitely, and the negotiations for that are already under way. Once the Commission is satisfied that a non-EU country is issuing certificates in accordance with the standards and systems that are interoperable with the EU system, the Commission may adopt a decision to accept such non-EU certificates under the same conditions as EU COVID digital certificates. In any case, the rules for accepting a vaccination certificate would be the same as for EU citizens.
Raavo Järva, Head of the Tallinn border crossing point of the Police and Border Guard Board:
What should be kept in mind when travelling? Which documents should I need and how long should they be valid (when travelling within EU vs outside)?
Although usually, you can manage with an ID card when traveling in the European Union, also carrying a passport for security reasons is worth considering. Before travelling to other countries, you should always check which document is accepted in the country and what should the validity period of the document be.
Those holding an Estonian alien’s passport (the so-called grey passport) must carry a valid passport and an Estonian residence permit card (ID card) to travel within the European Union as well as outside the EU.
Be sure to find out before traveling if and in what cases it is necessary to apply for a visa to enter the country.
Replacement of passport and/or ID card should not be left to the last minute to avoid unpleasant surprises just before the trip. You can make a new document conveniently in the self-service environment of the Police and Border Guard Board at iseteenindus.politsei.ee.
Are the certificates concerning the coronavirus checked at the border when traveling from Estonia, or is it the responsibility of the airline and check-in staff?
The police do not check the corona certificates when leaving the country, but everyone must first examine the conditions of the country of destination by themselves: which certificates or vaccination certificates are recognised. If, for example, an airline has doubts about the accuracy of the passenger’s document or certificate, the police will be notified thereof.
What happens if the passenger misses his or her flight due to some misunderstandings at the airport?
Of course, it all depends on the specific case. In order to avoid any misunderstandings or delays, you should first check that all your documents are valid and you have the respective certificates along.
Is it mandatory for those entering the country to take a test or show a negative test result?
Although inspections are sometimes carried out on a random basis, then depending on the country of arrival, either a negative corona test certificate, a vaccination certificate or a certificate of having suffered the coronavirus is checked.
Is filling in the health declaration obligatory for all those arriving in Estonia or only for some passengers?
The traveller’s questionnaire (iseteenindus.terviseamet.ee) must be filled in before the arrival in Estonia and this can be done up to three days before entering Estonia. The questionnaire does not have to be submitted by people who have been suffered the virus, have been completely vaccinated or are not subject to movement restrictions under the order of the Government No. 282.
How can I prove at the border that I have been vaccinated or have suffered from the virus?
The EU COVID digital certificate can be presented at the border both on paper and on a smart device. The certificate has a QR-code, which can be scanned to quickly check the accuracy and timeliness of the data.
A document certifying vaccination carried out in another country must be in Latin or Slavic alphabet, in Estonian, Russian or English and contain the following information:
- personal data of the person vaccinated (given name and surname)
- dates of vaccination
- administered vaccine and dose
- batch number of vaccine
- the number of vaccine doses administered
- name of vaccinator and other details
All vaccinations are documented digitally and, if desired, also on paper in the immunization passport. There are several ways to prove vaccination:
- with the immunization passport, printed from the portal digilugu.ee
- with the paper-based immunization passport, issued by the health care professional carrying out vaccination
- vaccinations carried out in another country can be proved by an immunization passport, a copy thereof or a certified printout of the relevant certificate or database
You will find the answers to the questions concerning the certificate from the websites kriis.ee and terviseamet.ee
Does the Police and Border Guard Board monitor compliance with the self-isolation obligation?
The police pay more attention to the obligation of staying home assigned to a person in border control. If the person crossing the border violates the coronavirus isolation requirement, the police will forward this information to the Health Board for a penalty payment.