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When will Italy recognise UK vaccinations via the NHS app?

After Italy announced it will extend its 'green pass' to make the certificate mandatory to visit museums, attend concerts or dine at a restaurant indoors, many readers vaccinated in the UK have contacted The Local to ask when the NHS app will be recognised in Italy. Here's what we know so far.

When will Italy recognise UK vaccinations via the NHS app?
(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

**Note: This article is no longer being updated. Please see the latest news here.**

Italy’s Covid health pass will cover most venues and cultural sites in the country when the new rules come into effect on August 6th.

From that date, you’ll need to show a ‘green pass‘ to access many places that typically attract tourists, such as museums, galleries, theatres, cinemas, sports stadiums, theme parks, indoor swimming pools, spas, and indoor seating areas at bars and restaurants.

READ ALSO: Italy makes Covid ‘green pass’ mandatory for restaurants, gyms, cinemas and more 

The certificazione verde is available to anyone who has been vaccinated in Italy, including those who have only had the first of two doses. 

People who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months or who tested negative for the coronavirus within the previous 48 hours can also claim it.

So if you were vaccinated in the UK, Italy’s Covid health pass currently doesn’t recognise your shots.

(Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

When will this change?

Since France begun to independently recognise proof of vaccination in the UK, people wanting to travel to Italy for tourism, to make long-postponed trips to family or to attend weddings have been asking when Italy will follow suit.

France is allowing UK visitors who were vaccinated to upload their NHS certificates to the French health pass app, TousAntiCovid.

This recognition isn’t mutual, but the UK government is shortly expected to make an announcement on EU-administered vaccinations being accepted for entry into the UK.

Whether or not more countries might start recognising each others’ health passports may depend on whether apps are compatible with each other, as much as on international agreements.

EXPLAINED: When, where and why will you need a Covid health passport in Italy?

If you were vaccinated somewhere else than the UK, click here to see how it affects you when visiting Italy.

Although Italy and the UK have not yet made an announcement on when the NHS Covid pass will be recognised in Italy, one is due shortly.

The director of prevention at the Ministry of Health, Giovanni Rezza, told reporters at a press conference, “There is no reason for this situation to persist.”

Being unable to access the ‘green pass’ if you were vaccinated in the UK “is being resolved”, he confirmed.

Referring to Italians living in the UK who want to return home for summer visits, the Italian Embassy in London shared Rezza’s announcement on social media.

“‘The problem of the green pass for Italians who have had a vaccination cycle in Great Britain, where two vaccines were given like we have done [in Italy], is being resolved’. This was said by Giovanni Rezza, director of prevention at the Ministry of Health,” the tweet read.

Rezza pointed out that vaccines administered in the UK are recognised by the European Medicines Agency and so should be accepted in Italy.

Travellers continue to wait for a confirmed date on when this will come into force, following Rezza’s comments last week that a decision would arrive within a day or two.

Reader question: Can I use a foreign vaccination certificate to access Italy’s ‘green pass’?

What can I do until then?

If you’re travelling to Italy from the UK, you’ll need to follow the current travel restrictions, which include a 5-day quarantine and double-testing requirements.

However, these are due to expire at the end of the month and are presently under review.

Until then, once you’re in Italy and have completed quarantine, there’s one sure way to obtain Italy’s ‘green pass’ – by getting a coronavirus test in Italy. Find out how to get tested in Italy here, and learn how to download the green pass using your test number here.

What about returning to the UK?

Anyone vaccinated under the NHS can currently return home to the UK after a trip abroad without facing a quarantine period – though people who were vaccinated in Italy would still face quarantine in the UK under current ‘amber’ list rules.

An announcement from the UK government is expected on Wednesday, which may drop quarantine for vaccinated EU arrivals as well, however.

The Local will continue to follow the travel restrictions closely. Please check our homepage or travel news section for the most recent reports on any changes to the rules.

For more information about the current coronavirus-related restrictions on travel to Italy please see the Foreign Ministry’s website (in English).

Member comments

  1. We have the Euro Pass, must we now get an Italian Green Pass too. Also, we don’t use Twitter so no scanning of the green pass. Can we scan the Euro pass to get the app?

    1. If you have a EU Green Pass, that is all you need. Italy’s C19 app will authenticate and pass any issued Green Pass from anywhere in the EU.

      France’s TousantiCovid app allows non French Covid passes to be added, for some countries… I believe the NHS is one of them. Once in the French app, it will be recognized by the Italian authenticator app.

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REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

A number of countries in Europe's Schengen area admit they fear delays and insufficient time to test the process ahead of new, more rigorous EU border checks that will be introduced next year, a new document reveals.

REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

Schengen countries are tightening up security at the external borders with the introduction of a new digital system (EES) to record the entry and exit of non-EU citizens in May 2023.

The EES will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. It will register the person’s name, type of the travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit. The data will be kept in a centralised database on a rolling three-year basis that is re-set at each entry. 

What the EES is intended to do is increase border security, including the enforcement of the 90-day short-stay limit for tourists and visitors.

EU citizens and third-country nationals who reside in a country of the Schengen area will not be subject to such checks as long as they can prove residency in an EU country however they will still be caught up in any delays at passport control if the new system as many fear, causes longer processing times.

READ ALSO: Foreigners living in EU not covered by new EES border checks

But given its scale, the entry into operation of the system has been raising concerns on many fronts, including the readiness of the physical and digital infrastructure, and the time required for border checks, which could subsequently cause massive queues at borders.

A document on the state of preparations was distributed last week by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties.

The paper contains the responses from 21 countries to a questionnaire about potential impacts on passenger flows, the infrastructure put in place and the possibility of a gradual introduction of the new system over a number of months.

This is what certain the countries have responded. Responses from Denmark, Spain and Sweden do not appear in the report but the answers from other countries will be relevant for readers in those countries.

READ ALSO: What the EU’s new EES border check system means for travel

‘Double processing time’

Austria and Germany are the most vocal in warning that passport processing times will increase when the EES will become operational.

“The additional tasks resulting from the EES regulation will lead to a sharp increase in process times”, which are expected to “double compared to the current situation,” Austrian authorities say. “This will also affect the waiting times at border crossing points (in Austria, the six international airports),” the document continues.

“Furthermore, border control will become more complicated since in addition to the distinction between visa-exempt and visa-required persons, we will also have to differentiate between EES-required and EES-exempt TCN [third country nationals], as well as between registered and unregistered TCN in EES,” Austrian officials note.

Based on an analysis of passenger traffic carried out with the aviation industry, German authorities estimate that checking times will “increase significantly”.

France expects to be ready for the introduction of the EES “in terms of passenger routes, training and national systems,” but admits that “fluidity remains a concern” and “discussions are continuing… to make progress on this point”.

Italy is also “adapting the border operational processes… in order to contain the increased process time and ensure both safety and security”.

“Despite many arguments for the introduction of automated border control systems based on the need for efficiency, the document makes clear that the EES will substantially increase border crossing times,” Statewatch argues.

‘Stable service unlikely by May 2023’

The border infrastructure is also being adapted for collecting and recording the data, with several countries planning for automated checks. So what will change in practice?

France will set up self-service kiosks in airports, where third-country nationals can pre-register their biometric data and personal information before being directed to the booth for verification with the border guard. The same approach will be adopted for visitors arriving by bus, while tablet devices such as iPads will be used for the registration of car passengers at land and sea borders.

Germany also plans to install self-service kiosks at the airports to “pre-capture” biometric data before border checks. But given the little time for testing the full process, German authorities say “a stable working EES system seems to be unlikely in May 2023.”

Austria intends to install self-service kiosks at the airports of Vienna and Salzburg “in the course of 2023”. Later these will be linked to existing e-gates enabling a “fully automated border crossing”. Austrian authorities also explain that airport operators are seeking to provide more space for kiosks and queues, but works will not be completed before the system is operational.

Italy is increasing the “equipment of automated gates in all the main  airport” and plans to install, at least in the first EES phase, about 600 self-service kiosks at the airports of Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Venice and in those with “significant volumes of extra-Schengen traffic,” such as Bergamo, Naples, Bologna and Turin.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member but is part of the Schengen area, is also installing self-service kiosks to facilitate the collection of data. Norway, instead, will have “automated camera solutions operated by the border guards”, but will consider self-service options only after the EES is in operation.

Gradual introduction?

One of the possibilities still in consideration is the gradual introduction of the new system. The European Commission has proposed a ‘progressive approach’ that would allow the creation of “incomplete” passenger files for 9 months following the EES entry into operation, and continuing passport stamping for 3 months.

According to the responses, Italy is the only country favourable to this option. For Austria and France this “could result in more confusion for border guards and travellers”. French officials also argue that a lack of biometric data will “present a risk for the security of the Schengen area”.

France suggested to mitigate with “flexibility” the EES impacts in the first months of its entry into service. In particular, France calls for the possibility to not create EES files for third-country nationals who entered the Schengen area before the system becomes operational, leaving this task to when they return later.

This would “significantly ease the pressure” on border guards “during the first three months after entry into service,” French authorities said.

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