The Foreign and Health ministries announced on Wednesday that Israel has also joined the digital COVID certificate program of the European Union. Hence, it will become easier for travelers to enter and leave the country now. According to a joint statement, this program will take effect from early October. With the coronavirus travel program, recovered and vaccinated Israelis will be able to travel to EU member states and other countries that are also part of the program and the country of destination will recognize their certificates. Simultaneously, travelers coming from these member countries to Israel will also have their recovery and vaccination certificates recognized.
This program is also applicable to people who have received certificates for coronavirus recovery. It hasn’t been decided by the Health Ministry as yet if people with testing certificates will be permitted to participate. Thanks to this program, Israelis will also have access to the green pass program of the EU, which gives them entry to cultural centers, restaurants and public institutions that are following the coronavirus guidelines in every country. It will also provide opportunity to open the tourism sector of Israel to European visitors. Yair Lapid, the Foreign Minister said that ties between countries and people could be ensured through the ability of traveling and visiting the world.
Nitzan Horowitz, the Health Minister, said that this is a major step in their effort to make it easier for people to have a routine life while living with coronavirus. He said that since Europe will recognize Israel’s vaccination certificates and they will recognize European certificates, it would give significant relief to economic relations, tourism and aviation. The program was launched by the EU for its member states on July 1st, 2021. Since then, it has expanded the program to neighboring countries. By the time Israel will officially join the program, there will be around 35 to 40 states participating.
Turkey and Morocco are some of the other states that are also part of the program. How does it work? There is a digital signature key of the Health Ministry that’s stored in a secured database. Every vaccinated Israeli is assigned a personal yet public key when they get vaccinated. A secure QR code placed on a physical or digital certificate can be scanned for verifying the personal key of the individual. This code comprises of essential information, such as name, date of birth, as well as vaccine issuance date, along with any other relevant information.
There is also a unique identifier included. At the time of scan, the scanner will be able to confirm the authenticity and validity of the certificate and determine who issued and signed it. The data in the code is not shared, transferred, captured or stored in any way by the country or person doing the scanning. This is effective because a ‘gateway’ was built by the EU for verifying certificate signatures by all countries that join their program. As Israel was working on something similar, they simply modified their design to meet the standards of the European Commission.