On 22 July 2021, the Commission issued guidelines for the Member States on most efficient ways to check the new EU Digital COVID Certificate before travel, thereby ensuring the smoothest possible experience for air passengers and staff alike.

Since passenger numbers are expected to rise over the summer, it is fundamental to overcome the differences in the way Member States organize the verification processes. Therefore, they should in the first place provide relevant stakeholders with clear, comprehensive and timely information about any restrictions to free movement as well as the lists of vaccines for which certificates are accepted.

In the second place, Member States should publish the rules for verifying the certificates’ authenticity and maintain them updated. More particularly, while there must be a possibility of presenting the certificate in person at the airport of departure and performing manual verification in loco, operators and authorities should support electronic business. Furthermore, Member States should ensure that airlines, airport staff or other agents empowered to verify the certificates are fully informed about their relevant roles and required actions.

Finally, in order to prevent duplication of checks, Member States should avoid requiring the verification of certificates at more than one occasion during the air travel journey. Therefore, they should verify the certificates with priority before departure, preferably during the online check-in process, thereby conducting verification upon arrival on a risk-based approach. Similarly, the collection of the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) should be done also as early as possible, and preferably before the passenger arrives at the departure airport to avoid multiple checking procedures.