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Australian international vaccine passport issue: How to travel in Europe during Covid

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With international travel back on the cards for the fully-vaccinated, holiday-starved Australians have begun flocking overseas for much-needed getaways.

But while travellers may have expected lots of paper work and QR codes in the new Covid-normal world, Australian tourists face another setback. 

The Australian international vaccine passport is not valid in parts of Europe where proof of immunisation is vital for people to participate in everyday activities. Those countries include France, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Austria and Holland. 

While you can still enter most European nations with the pass, this glitch means Aussies may find themselves banned from shopping, hitting up bars and restaurants, or visiting tourism sites once they have touched down in the continent. 

Aussies travelling to Europe are being barred from holiday festivities because of a glitch with the Australian International Covid-19 vaccination certificate (stock)

Aussies travelling to Europe are being barred from holiday festivities because of a glitch with the Australian International Covid-19 vaccination certificate (stock)

Although this prospect may sound daunting, there is no need to unpack your bags and wave goodbye to your European holiday dream. 

Travel expert Immanuel Debeer says there are two simple ways to get around the issue to make the most of your trip abroad. 

‘Australians will need to apply for a EUDCC – which is the standard Covid pass recognised within Europe and throughout the Schengen zone,’ Mr Debeer, the founder of travel advice company Flight Hacks, told Daily Mail Australia.     

‘There are three ways you can get the QR code; getting a recent negative test, having recovered from Covid within the last six months, or having had two doses of a vaccine. 

‘As Australians already need to be fully-vaccinated to travel, you can convert your international certificate into an EUDCC online or once you arrive in Europe.’

Mr Debeer said certain countries, like France and some cities in Germany, will let you convert your international Covid passport in pharmacies for a small fee – but the option is unavailable in places like Belgium and Holland.

To avoid getting stuck once you arrive, he said you can also apply to have your Australian pass converted into a Swiss EUDCC for a price of 33CHF (or about $50 AUD).

Flight Hacks Founder Immanuel Debeer (pictured) has offered two solutions for obtaining a EUDCC pass

Flight Hacks Founder Immanuel Debeer (pictured) has offered two solutions for obtaining a EUDCC pass

‘Switzerland is the only country that has made the process standardised,’ he said.

‘You need to send in your details through to their National Covid certificate application platform, but you need to have a booking – a flight or hotel – in Switzerland when you lodge the application.’

‘You can find a refundable hotel room, book it in your name, and use that as evidence, then afterwards you might change your mind on going there and cancel your reservation – but you will still have the certificate because it is based on the last time you had your vaccine.  

Mr Debeer said applying for the Swiss EUDCC before you leave Australia can save you a lot of money and the headache of being unable to use your international pass once you land.  

However, for families travelling with teenagers required to show vaccination status, they will have to make Swiss booking reservations under their child’s name for it to register on the application. 

Australians can enter most European countries because the onus is placed on airlines to check vaccination status - but the international pass is useless at local businesses once they arrive. Pictured: Passengers check in at Sydney airport for a flight to London

Australians can enter most European countries because the onus is placed on airlines to check vaccination status – but the international pass is useless at local businesses once they arrive. Pictured: Passengers check in at Sydney airport for a flight to London 

The Australian international Covid-19 vaccination certificate does not meet European guidelines, where the EUDCC is the standardised pass

Australians wishing to travel to most Scandinavian countries, like Norway, will need to have an EUDCC to be able to enter the country, Mr Debeer said, although restrictions are relaxed in those nations once you have entered.

Mr Debeer said he has heard from many Australians who have encountered issues overseas because the international pass issued Down Under does not meet European guidelines. 

He said the onus of checking vaccination status typically falls on the airline, which is why most European countries will allow Australians to enter with the international certificate – before they realise their pass is useless.

‘In Europe, there used to be freedom of travel within but now you have to show these QR codes,’ he said.

‘They work on a greed and red light system – where a green light upon scanning shows you meet the requirements for the EUDCC – which doesn’t necessarily mean vaccination.

Mr Debeer said European countries used to accept foreign passes but the EUDCC is now so standardised is seems to be only one integrated across the region.  

‘All around Europe it is being enforced now. There are quite heavy fines for people if they are not checking, so people are incentivised to scan these passes.’ 

For more information on how to add the EUDCC to your iPhone’s digital wallet, you can read about it on Flight Hacks here.

IMMANUEL DEBEER’S TWO TIPS FOR GETTING AN EUDCC

1. European pharmacies 

  • Some countries will allow you to convert your Australian international Covid vaccination certificate at pharmacies for a small fee
  • This can be done across France or in some cities in Germany. 

2. Apply online 

  • Australians can apply for a Swiss EUDCC by visiting Switzerland’s national Covid certificate pass website.
  • To qualify, you will need to be able to provide details of a booking or accommodation in Switzerland 
  • You can book refundable hotel rooms and cancel after you receive your pass
  • Teenagers who require proof of vaccination will need to have bookings made under their name to apply, as they will not fall under their parents’ pass



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