What is an EU Covid recovery certificate and will it affect half-term holidays?

Holidays to Spain could be off the cards this half term as the Spanish government looks set to reject recovery certificates. Credit: AP

A new European Covid measure has come into force that could affect travel within the EU for British holidaymakers over half term. 

The proposals by the EU seek to streamline cross-border travel and mean anyone travelling within the bloc will need a basic ‘green pass’ health certificate, which can be obtained via vaccination, recovery, or a recent negative Covid test.

The measures remove the need to quarantine for many, but the recommendations do tighten up existing Covid entry rules. Now, to gain entry to many EU countries, visitors over the age of 12 are required to show proof of a valid Covid-19 booster jab if their previous shots were more than 270 days before arrival, and 14 days must have passed since a visitor had a booster shot

The EU Digital Covid Certificate also shortens the validity of antigen tests to travel to 24 hours.

The recommendations update the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) scheme which seeks to coordinate Covid restrictions across the bloc's 27 countries.

Individual member states have the option to opt out and, if they do, it could affect your half-term holiday to, for example Spain who do not accept recovery certificates currently, but are reviewing this.

Here's what you need to know.

What is a recovery certificate?

As of 2 February 2022, the EU condition of entry will depend on vaccination or recovery status rather than your country of origin.

An EU Digital Covid Certificate is a digital proof that a person has either

  • been vaccinated against Covid-19

  • received a negative test result

  • recovered from Covid-19

The Covid recovery certificate proves a person has had a Covid infection less than six months ago.

How do I get a Covid recovery certificate?

The certificate is issued by the country where you live.

If you have recently had a coronavirus infection, you can receive a certificate showing that you have recovered from your doctor, or on the NHS Covid app. This will be active for 180 days from your positive Covid test.

The NHS Covid Pass currently shows proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19, and will be accessible to 12-15-year-olds from Thursday.

Will all countries be accepting Covid-19 recovery certificates?

Under the EU's new recommendations, individual member states can set their own entry rules.

There are reports that some countries, including Spain and France, may not recognise recovery certificates, potentially throwing half-term holidays into jeopardy.

European member states have agreed that under 18s travelling in the EU with their parents should be exempt from quarantine if their parents are fully vaccinated, and children under 12 should be exempt from travel-related testing, the EU Commission states. But, again, individual countries do no have to stick to these proposals.

Morzine, France. Credit: Photo by Chris Dunne from Pexels
  • Spain

Currently the Spanish government do not accept recovery certificates and insist on fully vaccination for all visitors over 12.

Children under-12 are exempt, in line with the EU guidelines.

However, if your child is aged over-12 and has had only one Covid jab, they will be refused entry into Spain even if they've had a recent coronavirus infection, which could prove tricky for families hoping to get away this February half-term.A spokesperson for the Spanish Tourist Office said: “We do know that Spain is in discussions with the EU and its partners about a possible review of the entry requirements for tourists from third countries with a view to making the current measures more flexible.

“The situation could change in the near future.”

  • France

France requires all UK travellers to present a negative Covid-19 test - either antigen or PCR - taken within 24 hours before departure. Antigen tests must be certified by a laboratory and NHS lateral flow test kits are not allowed.

All adults who had their second jab over seven months ago must get a booster vaccine to go on holiday to France.

Children under 12 do not need to be vaccinated or take a Covid test while those aged 12-17 can enter the country if they are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult. But, as of 15 February, France's health pass becomes a vaccine pass and condition of entry into many venues is reliant on being fully-vaccinated. However, France is also allowing under-16s to take a lateral flow test in the 24 hours before going into venues like cafes and ski centres.

A view of Venice, Italy. Credit: Myung Jung Kim/PA


Requires all travellers to have a pre-departure PCR test.


Italy currently has a two-tiered green pass system in place, with the basic version of the pass available to those who test negative, while the ‘reinforced’ or ‘super’ green pass is obtained through vaccination against or recovery from Covid-19 infection (which, as of 1 February is valid for six months).

Italy also requires visitors to present a negative PCR test on arrival.