Standardized COVID certificates for travel, known as “COVID passports”, became widespread in the summer of 2021.
But how long are COVID passports valid for, and what happens if they expire?
How long are COVID certificates valid for?
Vaccine certificates, test result certificates, and recovery certificates all have different regulations. It is critical to know your COVID passport’s expiration date, to avoid having an expired certificate while traveling.
How long are EU COVID vaccine certificates valid for?
The EU has not yet announced the standard validity period for vaccine certificates. This is likely to change as new evidence emerges regarding the level of protection of each vaccine after a period of time.
However, some countries have established their own regulations concerning vaccine certificates.
Croatia has established that vaccine certificates will only be valid for 270 days after being fully vaccinated. Thereafter, travelers will need to take a PCR or Rapid Antigen tests and self-isolate upon arrival.
Austria has announced the same validity period, and added that the certificate is valid for 90 days after a first dose has been administered.
The Austrian Tourism authority’s website explains: “vaccines that only require one dose are valid from the 22nd day after that dose and for 270 days from the vaccination date. This also applies to people who have had Covid before and received only one dose of any vaccine.”
How long are vaccine passports valid for?
The UK’s NHS Covid Pass app only displays a vaccine pass for 30 days, but the pass refreshes automatically each time a user logs in. This will be possible indefinitely.
New York’s Excelsior Pass can be used for 365 days after receiving a final dose of the vaccine.
Travelers are urged to read their destination country’s official COVID-19 travel restrictions before embarking on a trip, as there are more announcements expected soon.
How long are antigen test certificates valid for?
Rapid antigen test certificates are valid from 6 to 72 hours depending on the country and intended use, whether domestic or travel.
The EUDCC test certificate showing antigen test results is valid for 48 hours. Holders need to renew these certificates with new test results upon expiry.
New York’s Excelsior Pass has a significantly shorter validity period for the antigen tests, only 6 hours.
How long are PCR tests valid for?
PCR test certificates are valid for longer than antigen test certificates, because they are more precise and take longer to process.
PCR test results are valid from 24 to 72 hours after the moment the test is taken. Each time a new PCR test is taken, the results can be refreshed and new certificates can be generated.
The Excelsior Pass specifically explains that it is “valid until midnight on the third day after your test.”
How long are recovery certificates valid for?
Recovery certificates are not available in all countries, but those who use them have set their maximum validity at 180 days after the first positive test is taken.
This means the certificate is valid for 6 months after someone has first tested positive for COVID-19.
“These principles could be adjusted by the Commission on the basis of new scientific evidence” according to the official EU regulations.
As for the NHS Covid Pass, the recovery certificate is also valid for 180 days after the first positive COVID test. Between thirty-day periods, it automatically refreshes upon app login, just like the vaccine certificate.