EU sets 9-month duration for vaccine certificates from February 1

The European Commission adopted new rules on Tuesday setting a binding expiration date of nine months — or 270 days — for vaccination certificates for travel in the EU.

From February 1, EU countries will have to accept vaccination certificates for travel purposes for 270 days after the holder’s initial course of vaccination, and they can “neither prolong this period, nor shorten this period,” a spokesperson said.

For lack of clear information on the protection following a first set of jabs, the EU’s initial digital COVID certificates framework left it up to countries to decide how long vaccination certificates should be accepted for travel.

As the spread of the Omicron variant has spurred new travel restrictions in the bloc, the executive argues a uniform acceptance period is crucial for coordinating travel measures.

“The strength and success of this invaluable tool for citizens and business lies in its coherent use across the EU,” Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides argued in a statement.

The decision follows European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control guidance that countries offer boosters six months after an initial round of jabs. The nine-month timeframe gives countries an extra three months to roll out vaccination campaigns.

The expiration date will not be registered in the certificate, but the applications that are used to verify the passes will be adapted to consider certificates older than 270 days as expired.

The Commission also adopted rules to clearly distinguish a full initial vaccination cycle from a booster dose in the digital COVID certificate.

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