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How to use the NHS app as a Covid vaccine passport for travel

If a country accepts vaccination as an entry requirement, the NHS app will provide proof of inoculation

How to use the NHS app as a Covid vaccine passport for travel

Holidaymakers from England can prove their Covid vaccination status through the NHS app. It is hoped this will make overseas travel easier, now that the EU has agreed to grant inoculated travellers entry this summer – although the actual restrictions will be down to each individual EU state. 

If you can gain entry to a country based solely on being fully vaccinated, the NHS app can be used to prove you’ve had two doses and it’s available now to download on phones. But what if you don’t own a smartphone, or you can’t find your inoculation status on the app? 

We’ve outlined everything you need to know about the Covid health passport ready for when you next venture overseas.

How do I get the NHS app?

The app – which is separate to the NHS Covid test and trace app – can be downloaded on iOS and Android mobiles. You must be registered with a GP service in England to be able to use it fully and  be aged 13 or over.

When it’s downloaded, you’ll need to set up a log in. To do this, you’ll need an email address, phone number, date of birth, postcode and possibly your NHS number (though there are ways to prove who you are without having this NHS number handy). 

Once this is set up, you should be able to see basic health information on the app. To see further details such as immunisations, you’ll need to prove who you are by uploading photo identification. If you still cannot see your vaccine status more than a week after doing this, contact your GP surgery and request access to your detailed records.

Because it could take more than a week for your identity to be checked to enable you to use the NHS app, bear this in mind if you are travelling soon. You may need a bigger window than this too if you have to ask your GP for access to your records, so leave plenty of time.

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How do you find your vaccination status on the NHS app and use it to travel?

Covid passport

In the app, under the tab ‘your health’ there will be a box called ‘check your Covid-19 vaccine record’. If you click this you should be able to see if you’ve been vaccinated. This alone will not allow you to travel though. For holidays, click the tab ‘share your Covid-19 status’. On the next screen, hit ‘continue’ and then ‘travel’ and it should generate a QR code. This can be downloaded as a PDF, or you can ask for it to be sent to your email address.

However, not all countries will necessarily accept the app as proof, so you need to check this on the government website before travelling so that you don’t come unstuck.

Additionally, some countries require a negative test result regardless of your vaccination status. Don’t assume you can travel somewhere based on your inoculations, check the entry requirements.

Read our checklist for travel to ensure you’ve got all the information and documents you need before jetting off this year

What if you don’t have a smartphone to download the NHS app?

You can use the NHS app service online from your computer. Do not call your GP to request proof of your vaccination status.

If you do not have access to a computer, you can call 119 to request paper proof of your vaccinations. You should only request a letter in this way if you’ve had both jabs (wait five working days after your second to request one), are planning to travel in the next four weeks and you cannot access the digital service.

Expect to wait up to seven working days for the letter to reach you – allow plenty of time to receive it if you are travelling imminently. It will automatically go to the home address registered with your GP – make sure this is correct before calling 119.

Is it safe to book a holiday abroad this summer? Read our Q&A on booking.

You can’t see your vaccination status on the app or generate a QR code, why?

Sometimes when you request a QR code, you might see a message saying ‘no Covid-19 records found’. This could be because you’re not vaccinated or the app hasn’t finished verifying you yet. It could also be because you haven’t gained full record access from your GP. Ask your GP surgery to give you access to your detailed coded record. Once you can see your vaccination status on the app, the QR code request should work.

Another reason for not being able to see your status is because you’ve been on a Covid-19 vaccine trial.

What if you’ve booked a holiday but haven’t had the vaccine? Can you still go?

woman with suitcase

This depends on the entry requirements of each country. Many destinations will accept proof of a negative Covid test instead of being fully vaccinated. Some will only accept proof of a negative test. 

Check the entry requirements before booking and travelling so that you don’t get caught out.

Can  Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland residents use the NHS app?

Residents in Wales will be able to use the NHS app, but it has not yet been rolled out.

People in Scotland can request a vaccine certificate from the NHS inform website. Alternatively, call 0808 196 8565 if you’re due to travel in the next three weeks. This will be replaced in future by digital certificates.

People in Northern Ireland cannot currently use the app, nor is there a paper alternative, but this is being worked on. Regardless, right now, residents are not meant to travel abroad except for permitted reasons and must quarantine at home or in a hotel on return.

Can you use the app to show your negative Covid test?

Not yet, but in future this may be possible.

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