New UK vaccination card unlikely to boost travel

As UK residents lose their automatic EU travel privileges, cross-border healthcare rights and emergency health cover from the first day of 2021, some are looking at alternative travel solutions. UK media reports have wrongly suggested that a vaccination certificate could be seen as an ‘immunity passport’ to boost travel between UK countries and to Europe.

The UK was the first country to offer vaccine inoculation, although experts remain divided on how long they last and how effective they will be.

Several media outlets have wrongly described the new NHS Covid-19 vaccination card as a vaccine passport which proves who has been vaccinated and must be carried around at all times.

Public Health England has however confirmed that the vaccine card is simply a printed card with space for someone’s name and vaccination details to be written by hand. It is similar to those already used for other NHS vaccinations that involve more than one dose and is not intended for any other purpose.

There is no requirement for people to carry the card, and it would be very unreliable evidence that someone has been vaccinated.

The UK’s exit from the EU membership transition period on January 1 is creating a number of significant changes for British travellers to Europe.

The EU Commission has indicated that UK travellers could face restrictions on non-essential trips to European countries from January 1. As the UK has now left the transition period, it automatically joins the list of non-EU countries from which travel to Europe is not allowed.

During the transition period, the UK was treated as equivalent to an EU member and as a result British travellers were allowed to visit Europe throughout most of 2020.

Even when normal travel resumes, UK citizens will be limited to a total stay of 90 days in any year, which is only for holiday travel. It is far from clear on what extra rules medical tourists to and from the UK will face.