Traveling in the Age of Covid: Europe’s Green Pass

What is Europe’s Green Pass and how does it work?

With more than a year of being in lockdown, people are itching to get out of their houses. Many people wish to travel over the summer. The European Union (EU) is working on a way for safe traveling during the pandemic. The EU is even looking to include countries that are not in the EU such as Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. They are proposing a type of “Covid passport”. This kind of passport would have all necessary health information relating to Covid-19. For example, the passport could show if you’ve been vaccinated, if you’ve had Covid and recovered, or the date of your last negative Covid test.

The “Covid passport” is most commonly known as the Digital Green Certificate or the Green Pass. The Green Pass is still being developed, but the prototype being designed is a QR code on your phone and a required digital signature. This code could also be printed out on paper, making it fit more of the traditional passport format. The idea is that in some vacation places such as resorts or cruise ships, only people that have been vaccinated and that have their Green Pass could vacation there. More people will also be able to travel more easily between EU countries. Another option could be that the Green Pass could show your last negative Covid test and then you wouldn’t have to quarantine for 14 days when you visit a new place.

Will the EU follow the example of Israel? Israel already has its version of the Green Pass. The Israel Green Pass is in use and helped safely reopen restaurants and bars. Israel has one of the highest vaccination rates of the world, with almost 10 million vaccines distributedCountries whose economies depend heavily on tourism have been some of the hardest hit during the pandemic.  For example, Greece is opening its doors to 10,000 vaccinated Israeli tourists per week. The Green Pass is very useful in this instance, because it makes keeping track of vaccinations and other Covid-19 information much easier. The Israel Green Pass can be issued to a person one week after they have had their second dose of a Covid vaccine.

Has something like this been done before? People who have traveled abroad to countries in Africa or in Central and South America have had to possess a “Yellow Card.” According to, “The Yellow Card, or Carte Jaune, is a medical passport issued by the World Health Organization. It’s an official record that some countries require for entrance, and it can document vaccination against diseases ranging from cholera and yellow fever to such childhood illnesses as rubella.”

One obstacle facing the execution of the Green Pass is getting it approved in time for summer travel. All 27 EU member states need to support this idea for it to be introduced in June. Experts agree that early summer is an extremely optimistic timeline for the Green Pass to be ready. The Green Pass is also sparking some worry about inclusivity as most of the people of the younger generations have not been vaccinated yet. Finally, there are also concerns about keeping health data safe and private.

Clearly,  a lot remains to be seen about when and how the Green Pass will be rolled out. Yet the prospect of summer travel between EU countries being safe and encouraged is exciting. And perhaps this will serve as a model for the rest of the globe.