Covid passports: how to get proof of vaccination from NHS England - and what are the rules across the UK?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson first revealed back in July that the plan was to introduce vaccine passports as a requirement to enter venues such as nightclubs

Across the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own rules pertaining to the use of Covid-19 vaccine passports.

This is what you need to know - and how to get your proof of vaccination from NHS England.

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What has Boris Johnson said about vaccine passports?

At the time, the official spokesperson for the Prime Minister said last week that the plans first announced in July remain in place, stating: “We set out broadly our intention to require vaccination for nightclubs and other settings.

“We will be coming forward in the coming weeks with detail for that.”

Earlier in the year, Johnson said: “I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again - as they have elsewhere - but it does means nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing and make use of the NHS Covid Pass which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity – as a means of entry.

“As we said last week, we reserve the right to mandate certification at any point, if it is necessary to reduce transmission.

“And I should serve notice now that by the end of September - when all over 18s will have had the chance to be double jabbed – we are planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.

“Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient.”

How do I get proof of my vaccine?

Your NHS Covid Pass shows your vaccination status, and there are a few different ways you can go about getting your pass.

Firstly, you can opt for the digital version which you can download as a PDF or have it sent to you in an email.

You can get the digital version by downloading the NHS App. To get the app you must be registered with a GP surgery in England - currently the Covid Pass is not available to Isle of Man residents using the NHS App.

Alternatively you can use the online NHS Covid Pass service. To use either of these services, you’ll need to have an NHS login. If you don’t have an NHS login already, you’ll be asked to create one.

How long is the digital pass valid for?

Digital versions of your Covid Pass are valid for varying lengths of time depending on your situation.

If you’ve had:

  • A vaccine used in the UK your pass lasts for 30 days, but the 30 day period refreshes every time you log in
  • A negative PCR test or rapid lateral flow test, your pass is valid for 48 hours after a negative result 
  • A positive PCR test, your pass lasts 30 days, but the 30 day period refreshes every time you log in (for up to 180 days after you took the test)

If you download your Covid Pass as a PDF, make sure and check the expiry date before using it.

The NHS adds: “If you’re fully vaccinated or had a positive test result, the barcode on a PDF is valid for 30 days.”

How do I get a paper version of the pass?

Instead of a digital version you could opt for a physical paper version instead which is sent to you as a letter in the post.

Your letter shows that you’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19, but not any Covid-19 test results.

You can ask for your letter after you’ve had your second dose of the vaccine, or after a single dose of the Janssen vaccine. You might need to wait up to five working days before requesting your letter as it can take a few days for your record to be updated.

You should receive your letter within five working days.

You do not need to be registered with a GP surgery or have an NHS login to request your paper version, and you can use your letter at venues in England where you need to prove your vaccination status.

You can request your letter online via the NHS website, or by calling 119.

What are the rules across the UK regarding vaccine passports?

In Scotland, certain “higher risk venues” require proof of vaccination.

From October, proof of vaccination is required to enter:

  • Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues
  • Unseated indoor live events, with more than 500 people in the audience 
  • Unseated outdoor live events, with more than 4,000 people in the audience
  • Any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance

The Scottish government website states that there are “currently no plans to introduce certification for the wider hospitality industry but this will be kept under review over the autumn and winter months”.

Scottish residents can access their proof of vaccination via the NHS app.

In Wales, the Covid pass is set to be extended to include venues like cinemas and theatres, after initially only applying to the likes of nightclubs and large scale events.

Northern Ireland has also recently launched its own domestic Covid passport app.

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