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How I got Germany’s new digital CovPass with my US vaccination certificate

How I got Germany's new digital CovPass with my US vaccination certificate
A sign in a Berlin pharmacy showing digital vaccine certificates are available. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Paul Zinken
Germany has started rolling out its digital Covid health pass. What does it mean for people who were vaccinated in another country? Here's how The Local reader John Camp got on with his US vaccine certificate.

From Monday, lots of pharmacies in Germany have been able to provide vaccinated people with a digital vaccine certificate for the first time. 

Meanwhile, people who haven’t been vaccinated yet should begin to receive the digital certificate at the time of their jab.

Those who are fully inoculated against Covid can visit a pharmacy (check mein-apothekenmanager.de to find out which ones are taking part), show proof of vaccination and then get the QR code that can be scanned into an app, such as CovPass or the Corona Warning app, on their smartphone. 

READ ALSO: German pharmacies begin offering digital vaccination certificates

But for those who’ve been vaccinated abroad, the situation can be a bit more tricky. That’s because Germany has not published any firm rules on how people who’ve had their jabs abroad can show proof.

US-born John Camp, 50, who lives in Cologne and was vaccinated in Florida earlier this year, has found that his CDC card is often not accepted in Germany when it is required, for example – to eat inside a restaurant or go to the gym.

“So far in Germany, many places are asking for proof of vaccination,” Camp told The Local. “Eight times out of 10 I show them this paper (CDC card) and first of all it’s in English – they don’t like that. And second of all, they say: ‘No we can’t really accept this, sorry.’ So it’s been a little difficult so far.”

The new digital vaccine certificate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Puchner

The German Health Ministry told the Local that vaccines logged in the internationally-recognised WHO ‘yellow booklet’ will be accepted – however, talks are ongoing on recognising vaccine certificates from outside Germany. 

‘Huge relief’

Real estate broker Camp, who has lived in Germany permanently for about four years, was eager to get a digital certificate, but had no idea if his US vaccination card would be accepted as proof in a pharmacy. 

Camp set off this morning to try and get the job done. He said the first three pharmacies he visited didn’t have the digital vaccine system up and running. 

READ ALSO:

The fourth pharmacy did not accept the US vaccination card as proof. He tried another – they accepted his card but the employee said they couldn’t enter the information into the system because Pfizer was not on the drop-down list of approved vaccines. 

“I tried to explain to him that it would probably be listed in his system as BioNTech, as it is the same vaccine/partnership, but he gave my documents back and said he can’t do it,” said Camp. 

He tried the sixth pharmacy – and got lucky. The employee typed everything into the system and he received two pieces of paper – one for each separate vaccine, “each one containing the QR codes for the app”, said Camp. 

He was able to scan it into his smartphone to get the digital certificate. 

“It’s a huge relief,” Camp told The Local. “I travel a lot, I travel all over Europe. This will make it so much easier. I think it will help even around Germany.

“A lot of places will start to use this so now I don’t need to show an American document, I can flash this QR code and I’m good to go.”

And his advice for anyone else who has a foreign vaccination certificate? Getting it seems to be at the discretion of the pharmacy, so shop around. 

“If other Americans have the same problem, they should keep in mind that if one person tells them ‘no’, they should try a different pharmacy,” he said.


Member comments

  1. I was lucky with local pharmacy second jab in Germany but first in UK. Same vaccine but pharmacy accepted NHS card plus screenshot from NHS letter telling me I needed to get second jab. Onus is on pharmacy to check data. I had evidence of appointment, location, vaccine plus e-mail trail from local health board I’d contacted them to ask for advice on 2nd vaccine. It depends on pharmacy and whether they will accept overseas evidence.

  2. I got my certificate (the two sheets of paper). However, the CovPass app is not available in the App store. I have a German number (i.e., +49) but it says I’m in the wrong region for it. Anybody discover work arounds for this?

    1. The app will only be available if you are logged into the German app store. Even a German SIM card in your phone would not change the app store region that you are signed up with. However, as long as you have a German credit card, you can log out of the app store and then sign up with a secondary login to the German app store (with the German credit card). This is what I had to do a couple years ago, so that I can toggle back and forth between app stores as needed.

      1. Hi John, are you able to share from where you received your pass in the end? What was the “6th pharmacy”?

  3. The fact we have to ‘shop around’ shows how truly broken the system is. Well done Germany :/

  4. Just have your German doctor transcribe the details into the yellow vaccine booklet, and viola. Only problem now is can’t get the App with US App Store, no German cc… oh, well

  5. The link in the article for Apoteke offering codes was super helpful! Found a pharmacy/Apoteke around the corner from me. Then I scanned q-r code into the Corona-Warn App👍👏

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