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UK ‘on verge of joining EU Covid passport scheme’

The UK is understood to be poised to join the EU Covid vaccine passport scheme.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate should make travelling in Europe easier and cheaper for British tourists.

The Daily Telegraph said on Saturday it had been told by the EU that integration of the UK’s vaccine database into the EU system was at an advanced stage.

“­­Significant progress was made on a technical front, namely when it comes to the connection to the gateway, with aim of going live [testing] soon,” said a spokesman for the European Commission.

The UK Foreign Office and Department of Health and Social Care have joint responsibility for the project in the UK. They formally applied to join the EU scheme on July 28, and technical work has been carrying on behind the scenes ever since.

A Foreign Office spokesman told the newspaper: “We have applied to link into the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate scheme.

“Linking up to the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate scheme will enable us to digitally verify each other’s Covid certificates to make journeys easier.”

The EU Digital Covid Certificate has quickly become the biggest vaccine passport scheme in the world and covers more than 40 countries, including all 27 EU states and others such as Israel and Panama.

The system is effectively a giant digital platform or “gateway” through which different countries’ vaccine certificates and test results can be scanned and verified as legitimate by others quickly and easily.

It is used on all external EU borders and also for domestic vaccine passports schemes operating in countries including France, Holland and Portugal.

Border guards download an app that can read the QR code on an individual’s vaccine certificate or negative test result. If the QR code has been issued by a participating country and is legitimate, the app flashes green and the person is clear to pass. Forged or unauthorised jabs are quickly picked up.

Joining the EU scheme should ease travel to and within continental Europe. Double-jabbed Britons travelling to Portugal, for example, must currently buy a lateral flow test before departure, at £20 to £40 a time, only because their jabs are not recognised by the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

This will change for Portugal and other countries once the UK joins the federalised EU system.

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said the digital passport would “make life easy for business and leisure travellers” but urged the government to ditch day-two tests for fully-jabbed arrivals to align the UK with the testing regime in Europe.

Joining will also make access to restaurants, bars and events easier in countries that run domestic Covid passport schemes such as France,Italy, Portugal, Germany and Holland.

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