Hundreds of thousands of Irish people are now receiving their EU Digital COVID Cert, ahead of the easing of rules around foreign travel next week.
Many have already received their cert via email, while others can expect their cert in the post by next Tuesday.
The documents are aimed at facilitating the safe return to travel within the EU, with the Irish rules easing from next Monday - July 19th.
While the issuing of the certs is still ongoing, those who have received or are due to receive a cert may be wondering: how exactly will travel work with these new documents?
Sarah Slattery, owner of TheTravelExpert.ie, spoke to The Pat Kenny Show to explain what people can expect if they do plan to travel to Europe this summer.
The cert itself is a piece of paper or digital file with a QR code, as well as the person's name and date of birth.
Sarah explained: “[The code] will be scanned at the airport like a boarding pass… and it will show whether you’ve been vaccinated, recovered from COVID, or have a negative test.
“Your passport will need to be in the same name as your cert. There are lots of people with married names… so it’s important your cert matches your passport.”
The QR code can be on your phone - either as a document or a photo - and the COVID Tracker app is being updated shortly so the cert can also be stored there as well in a digital 'wallet'.
People travelling through airports will have their pass scanned before boarding the plane, followed by spot checks on arrival at a destination.
Sarah said: “People are generally recommending you print it out as well in case you lost your phone or your battery went.
"But officially all you’d need is to have it on your phone - that’s what has been happening through Europe for the last few weeks, and it has been working fine.”
It simply means anyone who has just been sent a paper cert can simply photograph the full QR code to have a digital copy.
Travel without a cert
One important thing to remember is it's still possible to travel within Europe without the digital cert - but you will need proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Sarah explained: “There’s still a little bit of confusion over proof [of vaccination] - some countries may specifically require to see it digitally.
"Certainly if you haven’t been vaccinated and you have a negative test - most countries are antigen test, and some are PCR - there’s no problem travelling."
While there had been concerns over potential delays at airports as passenger numbers increase, Sarah says she doesn't expect nightmare queues at airports.
She explained: “There are going to be [fewer] people travelling than would normally be travelling in July and August - I don’t imagine there’s going to be those horror stories we were hearing a few weeks ago of huge queues."
The specific rules and requirements for travel will differ somewhat between individual EU countries, despite the new bloc-wide cert.
Sarah said: “The most important thing is people know the restrictions of the country they’re going to, as they are changing all the time.
"Even in Ireland… up until yesterday we were told children over seven needed PCR tests. Now we’ve heard children under 12 [won’t need a test]. Spain had required PCR tests 48 hours beforehand… now they’ve changed to 72 hours.
“Make sure people check the destination they’re going to, as opposed to the Irish restrictions.”
Cabinet has approved a change that will mean under-12s arriving into the country won't have to take a PCR test to get in. Brings things in line with majority of EU countries
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) July 13, 2021
You can download the Reopen EU app or visit the website to get full details on the rules in place for individual countries.
And what of the UK, which (due to the Brexit) doesn't fall under the EU's new digital cert system?
Sarah said rule changes are expected to be confirmed within days, and vaccinated people or those with a negative PCR test likely won't need to self-isolate when they arrive in Ireland from Britain.
For now, those arriving in Ireland from Britain are still required to isolate at home - but those rules are expected to be eased very soon as Ireland aligns with the EU approach on travel from 'third countries'.