International travel advice for Irish residents is expected to change from Monday.
On July 19, government advice will switch from asking people to avoid non-essential travel to advising them to travel safely and in accordance with public health guidelines.
For travel within the European Union and the European Economic Area, a Covid digital certificate system is in place for citizens. Here’s what you need to know about the process.
What should I do before leaving Ireland?
If you are traveling within the EU, you should check the restrictions in force in the country you are traveling to. The EU’s ReOpen website has the most recent information on each country.
If you have been vaccinated or tested for Covid-19 in Ireland, you may receive a Covid digital certificate from the EU.
You can still travel without the EU certificate, but this makes it easier to travel in Europe.
If you are traveling outside the EU, you should check the travel restrictions for this country on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
What is the EU Covid digital certificate?
The EU’s Covid digital certificate takes the form of a QR code, which indicates whether a traveler has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, received a recent negative test result, or has immunity due to a recent recovery of a Covid-19 infection.
It is free, issued and valid in all EU countries. Irish citizens who are fully vaccinated started receiving the certificate by email and post last week.
The system also extends to non-EU countries in the Schengen area without borders – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The system is already in place in the rest of the EU – Ireland is the last Member State to fully implement the system.
How should I store the digital certificate?
The EU Covid digital certificate can be printed or stored on your phone.
The certificate arrives in PDF format when sent by email, so it can be saved to a device or easily printed.
It can also be stored on the official government Covid Tracker app.
What is the current situation of the coronavirus in other EU countries?
As of July 18, popular holiday destinations such as Cyprus, Spain and Portugal are the countries with the highest Covid infection rates in the EU and the Schengen zone.
All are experiencing outbreaks of the Delta variant – Cyprus recorded its highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began on Tuesday.
Catalonia in Spain, which includes Barcelona, and the Algarve in Portugal are among the regions with the highest Covid rates in Europe, according to official data collected by the World Health Organization.
Portugal on Thursday extended Covid restrictions to a wider area of the country, including tourist areas such as the Algarve.
On a European scale, the Channel Island of Jersey currently has the highest rate, followed by parts of northern England.
And what do I need to return to Ireland?
If you are returning to Ireland from an EU or Schengen area country, you will need to complete a passenger tracking form in advance.
You can fill it out online and it will be checked before departure by your airline or ferry company.
On the form, you must indicate whether you are traveling with either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from Covid-19 within the past 6 months, or proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
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An EU digital Covid certificate can serve as the necessary proof to complete the form.
Some EU countries accept a negative result of a rapid antigen test as valid evidence. However, Ireland will only accept a negative PCR test to enter the country.
Starting July 19, children between the ages of 12 and 17 will be required to have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival to travel to the country, unless they have valid proof of vaccination or recovery.
The government said spot checks would be carried out on Covid digital certificates, other proof of vaccination and negative PCR tests on passengers arriving in Ireland. – Additional reports: Reuters