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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Covid passports: How do I get one and when will I need it?


Plans to require Covid passports to enter nightclubs and large events in England have been scrapped.

However, people going to similar events in Scotland will need one from 1 October – to show they are fully vaccinated.

Travellers can still use Covid passports to avoid quarantine when returning from amber list holiday destinations.

What happened to Covid passport plans in England?

Announcing the plans would not go ahead for clubs and large events, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the government had been right to look into the idea.

It had previously said passports were the “best way” to keep venues like clubs open.

Proposals were announced in July but met opposition from some Tory MPs and the Liberal Democrats. Nightclubs described them as “chaotic and surreal”.

What are the Covid passport plans for Scotland?

Covid vaccination certificates – so called Covid passports – will be introduced from 1 October. This is once all adults have had the chance to be fully vaccinated.

The Scottish government says this will allow large events to go ahead as safely as possible.

Where will I need a Covid passport?

The new rules mean people in Scotland over the age of 18 will need to show they are fully vaccinated before they are allowed entry to:

  • Nightclubs and comparable venues
  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Unseated indoor live events for more than 500 people
  • Unseated outdoor live events for more than 4,000 people
  • Any event for more than 10,000 people

Who will be exempt?

  • Under-18s (likely to be reduced to under-16s once all 16- to 18-year-olds have had the opportunity to be vaccinated)
  • Participants in vaccine trials
  • People unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons
  • Those working or performing at venues (they will be under employers’ health and safety guidance)

How will it work?

A QR code verifier app (called the NHS Scotland Covid Check) will be made available to venues from 13 September, enabling staff to check customers’ QR codes.

From 30 September, customers can download an NHS Scotland Covid Status App to show their vaccination QR codes. From that date, the current downloadable PDF function via the NHS inform website will be switched off.

Anyone unable or unwilling to use the app can request a “secure un-editable paper record of vaccination” instead.

What counts as a nightclub?

Nightclubs were not defined in Scotland’s Covid regulations, and the government concedes that will now need to happen.

Potentially, a 200-capacity nightclub could ask for vaccine passports – while a pub next door, with a larger capacity and music playing into the early hours, will not.

Officials say they are working on a definition that will help protect public health, but not result in “market distortion or displacement”.

What if I’ve been jabbed in England, Wales or Northern Ireland?

As things stand, people vaccinated outside Scotland won’t qualify for entry to nightclubs or other venues.

The Scottish Government says it is working with England, Wales and Northern Ireland to work out a solution – as well as considering how it will work for overseas visitors.

Can I show a negative test result instead?

Scotland’s passport scheme will not initially allow a negative test result.

The Scottish government says this will be kept under review, but it doesn’t want to undermine one of the scheme’s aims – to increase vaccine uptake.

What’s happening in Wales and Northern Ireland?

Ministers in Wales will decide before 17 September – when regulations are due to be reviewed – if Covid passports should be used to gain entry to some events.

Northern Ireland has not yet announced a position on a scheme.

What about foreign travel?

The NHS Covid Pass, or equivalents in other parts of the UK, lets fully vaccinated adults avoid quarantine when returning from amber-list countries.

Adults fully vaccinated in the US and most European countries also don’t have to self-isolate on arrival in the UK from amber-list countries.

Proof of vaccination status is also required by some other countries for entry. Several European destinations now accept the NHS pass. Check your destination’s entry rules and keep checking until you travel.

Some holiday providers insist customers are fully vaccinated.

How do I prove I’ve been vaccinated?


As long as you are registered with a GP, you can get proof of your Covid-19 status via the NHS App (not the NHS Covid-19 app which alerts you if you’ve been close to someone with the virus).

The app generates the NHS Covid Pass shows your Covid vaccination details or test results.

People aged 18 and over can get an NHS Covid Pass to use in the UK if:

  • It’s been two weeks since your second vaccination (or single Jansen dose)
  • You’ve had a negative PCR or lateral flow test result in the past 48 hours, and reported it on the NHS website (this pass lasts for 48 hours after the result)
  • You’ve had a positive PCR test result in the past six months, and finished self-isolating (this pass lasts for 180 days)

People aged 16 and over can get an NHS Covid Pass for foreign travel if:

  • You’ve had two vaccine doses (or one Jansen jab)
  • You’ve had a positive PCR test result in the past six months, and finished self-isolating (this pass lasts for 180 days)

If you don’t have a GP, or a mobile device, you can access the pass via the NHS website or by calling 119 to request a letter. The letter only shows your vaccination status (not test results) and has no expiry date.


The NHS Covid Pass is available digitally but you need to register for an NHS login.

Call 0300 303 5667 for a paper copy at least five days after your final dose.


Currently, anyone 16 and over can go online and download a PDF version of their vaccination status showing a unique QR code. By the end of September, the NHS Scotland Covid Status App should be available.

Printed letter versions for anyone 12 and over can be requested via the NHS inform website or by calling 0808 196 8565.

Northern Ireland:

You can apply for a Covid status certificate online and use it for travel.

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