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COVID-19

EXPLAINED: What people in Denmark need to know about the EU Covid travel certificate

Denmark's coronapas doubles as an EU Covid travel certificate, but if you're travelling there are a few things you need to know before you go.

EXPLAINED: What people in Denmark need to know about the EU Covid travel certificate
A traveller displays the Belgian version of the app. Photo: Eric Lalmand/AFP

How can I get a EU Covid travel certificate? 

Anyone who has downloaded the Danish coronapas app and had it validated with a test or vaccination can switch it to “foreign travel mode” by clicking on the pass icon at the top right of the screen.

A question pops up saying “where will you use the pass?”, and if you click “overseas travel” or utlandsrejse.

The app will generate a new QR code that is compatible with European standards and can communicate with readers and technology developed for the same purpose in other EU countries. It will also automatically apply the different criteria required for EU travel. 

You can see how to switch on this video below. It’s in Danish, but it shows how to toggle between the Danish and EU pass.   (thanks to Frederiksberg Library).

You can swipe up the pass to show on what basis you have a valid EU Covid travel certificate. 

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How do I know if my EU Covid travel certificate is valid where I’m going? 

Unfortunately, unlike the Danish coronapas, when you switch your app to “overseas travel” mode, the international QR code no longer comes with a big green tick telling you and others that it is valid. 

Instead it contains necessary key information such as name, date of birth, date of issuance, relevant information about vaccine/ test/recovery and a unique identifier.

This can then be used by border guards at the country you are entering to check whether you are allowed to enter.

So it is up to you to check that the test, vaccination or immunity status you have is valid. 

The Danish foreign ministry has made an excellent pop up map which gives a guide to what the entry requirements are in EU countries. 

Is there anything in particular to watch out for? 

Some countries, such as Iceland, Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Slovakia, do not currently accept negative rapid tests for entry. Denmark’s coronapas system only keeps and displays the most recent test you have taken. So if you have taken a rapid test, you have to take a new PCR test before travelling to these countries. 

Countries also vary over whether a test result needs to be 48 hours or 72 hours old to be valid. 

There are also differences in what the requirements are for a valid vaccination, with Austria, for instance, only accepting that you are fully vaccinated 21 days after your final dose, compared to 14 days in Denmark. 

In Italy, you are considered vaccinated 14 days after just your first dose, and in Austria 22 days after it. 

Finally, there are differences in how long you have to wait after a positive PCR test to be considered immune. 

In France it is 15 days, in Denmark 14 days. In France, immunity lasts for six months, in Denmark eight months. 
 

Do I need an EU Covid travel certificate to travel? 

No. You generally just need proof of a negative Covid-19 test, vaccination, or recovery from a Covid-19 infection. Some countries do not even require that. The Covid travel certificate is intended to make proving this easier and faster. 

Can I print out my EU Covid travel certificate? 

Yes, and the Danish health authorities recommend that you do so, in case you lose your phone, or it runs out of batteries at crucial moments. You should be able to print the document directly from your smartphone, or else take a screenshot and save it as a PDF, which you can send to your computer for printing. 

Can I use an EU Covid travel certificate in the same way as a coronapas to enter cafés etc? 

On July 1st, the certificate is only being launched for travel and border control, but the EU is encouraging member states to also accept each other’s corona passes for domestic use. 

Denmark already allows travellers from other EU countries to use the EU Covid travel certificate in the same way as a Danish coronapas.

But it is quite unclear how many other countries are doing this. France, for example, insists on people having a French pass for access to nightclubs, festivals etc. 

What happens if your EU Covid travel certificate stops being valid while you are abroad? 

If your certificate is valid on the basis of a negative test, it is likely to stop being valid while you are abroad. If you are in a “green” or “yellow” EU country and are only travelling back to Denmark, then this shouldn’t be a problem, as you will not need a test to return home. 

If, however, you want to travel onwards to another country, you may need to take a test in another EU country. Test centres internationally should then be able to issue you with an EU Covid travel certificate, either on paper or digitally. 

What is Denmark’s coronapas? 

Denmark’s coronapas is a digital document showing that the holder is vaccinated, previously infected (immune) or has tested negative for Covid-19 within the past 72 hours. 

It can be accessed either the pre-existing MinSundhed app, which has been used as a platform for corona passports since March, or through the dedicated coronapas app launched at the end of May. 

Unlike the old app, Coronapas gives access to a page which shows a QR code with a green banner if the passport is valid.

How do I get a coronapas? 

You can download the coronapas app from either the Apple app store or from Google Play. It can be installed on Android phones with operating system Android 5 or higher and iPhones with operating system iOS 9 or higher.

To log into the app, you need to have NemID, the Danish digital ID system. 

To get a NemID, you need to have a Danish CPR number, and to get a Danish CPR number you need to get a registration certificate at one of Denmark’s International Citizen Service centres. 

Once you have set up the app, you choose a four digit pin and can opt to use the phone’s fingerprint or face recognition to log in.
 
Once the app has your identity, it will automatically receive your vaccination status, immunity status and results of any vaccinations uploaded to the Danish health system. 
 
When is a Danish coronapas valid in Denmark? 
 
Your coronapas is valid 14 days after your final vaccine dose (which is also your first vaccine dose if you have been vaccinated with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It will then remain valid for at least eight months. 
 
Your coronapas is valid in Denmark for 72 hours after receiving a negative PCR or rapid test result.  
 
If you have had a positive PCR test taken, and you have recovered from the infection, you can have a valid pass from 14 days after the test and for eight months going forward. 
 
 

 

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For members

DRIVING

What’s it like driving from Scandinavia to the UK with a young family?

With the cost of airline tickets increasingly discouraging, is driving from Scandinavia to the UK becoming a more attractive option? The Local Denmark editor Michael Barrett gave it a try.

What’s it like driving from Scandinavia to the UK with a young family?

This summer has seen the return of large-scale international travel after a couple of Covid-hit years that have not been a picnic for anyone.

While the end of restrictions came as a relief, severe delays and disruptions at airports have added a new uncertainty around travel in 2022.

Scandinavia has not been an exception to this, with strikes at Scandinavian airline SAS and delays at Copenhagen and other airports among the problems faced by the sector.

Additionally, the increasing price of airline tickets in a time when inflation is hitting living costs across the board has become another factor discouraging air travel.

Finally, there’s the impact of air travel on climate to be considered. So is there an alternative?

The plan

Unlike colleagues who have made long distance journeys from France and Sweden respectively by rail, our plan was to make the trip from our home in Denmark to the UK by car.

There are a few reasons we picked this less climate-friendly option. I’ll readily admit they were driven (no pun intended) by our own needs, and not those of the planet. I hope we can offset this by using the train more than the car for longer journeys within Denmark, where costs are competitive.

Once we decided not to take our usual Ryanair flight, we only really considered driving. This is primarily because we have a toddler (age two), and felt that on such a long journey, the ability to control the timing and length of our stops would be crucial.

Secondly, the route would have taken longer and been more difficult logistically by rail, and would also have cost more. For example, we arrived at Harwich International Port late on a weekday evening, from where onward travel was to rural Suffolk. The thought of doing this on multiple local rail (possibly bus) services with a tired two-year-old makes me shudder a bit.

The route

From our home in central Denmark, we set out on a Monday morning and drove south on the E45 motorway, crossing the German border and continuing past Hamburg. We then got on to the A1 Autobahn and made for Bremen, where we stopped overnight.

Travelling non-stop, this journey takes just under four hours. It took us around five and a half. We stopped twice and were caught in traffic at Hamburg, where there is lot of construction going on around the city’s ring road.

Leaving early (just after 6am) the following day, we drove southwest and crossed the border into the Netherlands after a brief stop, but then managed to complete the journey to the port town Hook of Holland without a further break.

Our ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich was due to leave at 2:15pm and check-in time was an hour before that. This was the only deadline we had on our journey that would have been problematic to miss, so we gave ourselves plenty of time for the drive from Bremen. We arrived in Hook of Holland at around 11:30am.

Next was a six-hour ferry crossing to the East Anglian coast. We booked a cabin – they are inexpensive on daytime crossings – which gave us a chance to relax after the drive and our daughter a comfortable spot for her afternoon nap.

After a queue at customs in Harwich which took around 45 minutes, we were driving through the Essex countryside just before 9pm local time. The final drive to our destination took an hour and a half.

What went right

It’s not the most relevant information for anyone considering a similar trip, but I have to mention our car. A 2003 VW Polo we bought two years ago that has never had any mechanical issues, I was nevertheless braced for possible problems given its age (and ensured I had roadside assistance for outside of Denmark, more detail on this below).

However, there was not so much as a hint of an issue of any kind at any point during the 900 kilometres it covered on the journey, nor on the way home. Respect.

Our plan to split the trip into two days paid off. I think you could do it in one day (there are also overnight ferries) if you shared the driving and needed less flexibility. I should also recognise here that we live relatively close to Germany and our destination was close to the east coast of the UK. If you were travelling, for example, from Copenhagen to Cardiff, you’d have significantly more driving to do.

For us, knowing we could take long breaks if we needed them took a lot of stress out of the journey and allowed us to adapt to our toddler’s needs – changing nappies, finding a service station playground or stopping for an ice cream.

Stopping overnight also gave us the chance to see some new places (we switched things up on the way back and stayed in Groningen in the north of the Netherlands, instead of Bremen) and gave us a feeling of being on our own little bonus holiday.

What went wrong

In all, things went as well as we possibly could have hoped for and our conclusion after we got back home was that we’d like to travel this way again.

We were stopped by traffic police in Groningen city centre because I failed to understand signs showing we were entering a public transport-only zone. The officers who stopped us then offered to escort us to our accommodation a few streets away.

The ferry, operated by Stena Lines, had far less to do on board than we’d imagined there would be on a six-hour voyage. Two tiny off-duty shops, a cinema showing a superhero film and a minuscule play area (which our daughter nevertheless enjoyed) were about the extent of it. We hadn’t downloaded any films ourselves or brought much entertainment with us from the car, so we got a bit bored during the crossing. This is hardly a serious gripe and an easy one to rectify on the return trip.

The practical stuff 

Roadside assistance is obviously crucial for a journey like this, and it’s also important to double check your insurance is valid once you leave the country in which your car is registered and insured – Denmark, in our case.

Foreign authorities can check your insurance is valid. You can document this with the International Motor Insurance or “Green” card, which serves as proof you have motor insurance when you drive outside of the EU (you don’t need it within the EU).

This means that (in theory) you can be asked to present it in the UK. We weren’t asked for it.

The Green Card can be printed via your insurance company’s website. You’ll need your MitID or NemID secure login to access the platform and print off your document. Here is an example of the relevant page on the website of insurance company Tryg. If you can’t find the right section on your insurance company’s website, contact them by phone.

A number of Danish companies specialise in roadside assistance, including Falck and SOS Dansk Autohjælp. You can also include roadside assistance as part of your motor insurance package. We have the latter option, but in either case, I’d recommend calling your provider to make sure you are covered for breakdown in the EU and non-EU countries like the UK (if that’s where you’re going). Obviously, you should add such cover to your existing deal if you don’t have it, or change to a different deal.

The company which operates the ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich is Stena Line. Both directions have daytime and overnight departures.

There is a range of prices, and I couldn’t cover all the options here if I tried. However, I’d recommend a cabin on the daytime departures, because it’s inexpensive and gives you a bit of personal space and privacy, which is useful with children.

After calculating what our approximate fuel costs would be, the price of the hotel stays and ferry tickets, we found that the trip cost around 1,500 kroner more than we would have paid to fly from Billund Airport to London Stansted with checked-in baggage with Ryanair on the same dates. In return, we could take as much luggage as we want with us (and back), we got to see Bremen and Groningen and had our own car with us in the UK. This was more than worth the additional expense.

I also spent 50 kroner on a “DK” sticker for the tailgate of the car (because the car is so old it predates the EU number plates that include the country code) and 70 kroner for some headlight stickers which prevent full beam headlamps from dazzling oncoming drivers when you are driving on the left in the UK.

As I busily fixed them onto my car as we waited to disembark the ferry, however, a lorry driver parked next to us said these were, in fact, entirely unnecessary.

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