With the European Commission (EC) recently reaching a decision on the validity of its own EU Digital COVID Certificates (EUDCCs) at a maximum of 270 days (9 months) since the most recent dose with effect from 1st February 2022, member states are starting to adjust their border entry requirements accordingly.
This also follows the EC’s recommendation that countries impose a time limit of 270 days (9 months) for the acceptance of other approved vaccination certificates after the primary vaccination series for those arriving in the bloc from outside the European Union (EU).
This includes the provision that a recognised booster dose will ‘reset the clock’ on vaccine certificate validity.
As with most border measures, individual member states retain the sovereign right to implement their own restrictions, however as expected many countries are already coming on board and amending their requirements in accordance with the EC’s directive.
Here’s how the new rules look for Singapore residents travelling to some European countries.
Fully vaccinated Singapore residents can enter Denmark without quarantine, subject to a pre-departure test (PCR within 72 hours of arrival or ART within 48 hours of arrival), the latter requirement being added in late December 2021.
From 17th January 2022, Denmark’s definition of fully vaccinated has been amended to state “at least 2 weeks and no more than 270 days (approximately 9 months) must have elapsed since you received your final vaccination dose”.
That means if it has been more than 270 days since your final vaccine dose in the first vaccination series (typically your second dose of a two-dose vaccine), you must have had a booster shot in the last 270 days in order to travel to Denmark quarantine-free, otherwise 10 days of self-isolation will apply.
Vaccines recognised in Denmark are:
- Pfizer BioNTech (Comirnaty)
- Johnson & Johnson – Janssen Pharmaceutical (COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen)
- Moderna (COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna)
- AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria, formerly COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca)
- Novavax (Nuvaxovid)
Note that Denmark does not recognise Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines.
Those travelling to Denmark who have received one of these two vaccines will have to follow the rules for unvaccinated travellers, which involves an additional COVID-19 test within 24 hours of arrival and self-isolation for 10 days (or 6 days subject to a negative PCR test on Day 6, if desired).
COVID-19 recovery proof, by means of a positive test certificate between 14 days and 12 weeks old can also be used to enter Denmark, for those not fully vaccinated or whose vaccinated status has lapsed under these new rules.
From 1st February 2022, fully vaccinated travellers can continue to travel freely to Spain, but they must provide proof of their most recent COVID-19 dose administered within 14 to 270 days of entering the country.
[Your vaccination certificate] must have been issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin at least 14 days after the date of administration of the final dose of the complete (first) course of vaccination, as long as the final dose of that course of vaccination was no more than 270 days ago. From that time, the certificate must show the administration of a booster vaccination (from 1 February 2022).Spain Tourism Board
What this means is that Singapore travellers, and indeed visitors from any country, will not be able to travel to Spain (at all) if they received their most recent vaccination dose more than 270 days ago.
For those planning to arrive on the first day of implementation (1st February 2022), that will mean their final vaccine dose in the first vaccination series (e.g. second Pfizer shot) must have been on or after 7th May 2021.
If it was earlier than that, a booster dose must have been administered in the interim period.
There’s one important catch with travel to Spain.
If your original vaccination series was allowed to ‘expire’ before you had a booster dose, you will have to wait for 14 days after taking the booster dose to be eligible to enter Spain.
For example, if your second dose of Pfizer in Singapore was 280 days ago and you had your booster jab 4 days ago, you won’t be able to travel to Spain for 10 further days, because the original vaccination series is now deemed invalid, while the booster shot is not yet deemed effective.
“Effective February 1, 2022… if more than 270 days (9 months) have passed since receiving the last required dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, [travellers] must show proof of having received a booster shot at least 14 days prior to arrival in Spain.”U.S. Embassy in Spain
Other countries may impose a similar rule, so the easy way to avoid this becoming an issue is to ensure your booster is administered no more than around 250 days after your final dose in the first series, to ensure continuous vaccination validity for entry.
Vaccines recognised in Spain are:
- AstraZeneca (SK Bioscience)
- AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)
- Moderna (Spikevax)
- Nuvaxovid (Novavax)
- Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)
Additionally, all passengers arriving in Spain must complete an online health form prior to departure. This will generate a QR code to show at check-in, and to authorities on arrival.
Proof of recovery from COVID-19 is also an eligible means to enter Spain if you are not fully vaccinated, except for residents of the United Kingdom, who cannot use this ‘loophole’.
This requires a recovery certificate issued at least 11 days after a positive COVID-19 PCR test result. The sample for the certificate must have been taken at most 180 days before arrival, which is quite a generous timeframe.
Fully vaccinated Singapore residents can travel to Switzerland with no pre-departure testing (since 22nd January 2022), however for arrivals from 1st February 2022, an expiry date of nine months will be added to any eligible proof of vaccination.
That means from that date onwards, anyone travelling to Switzerland whose final COVID-19 dose in the first vaccination series (e.g. second Pfizer dose) was more than 270 days ago will be regarded as unvaccinated, unless they have had at least one booster dose.
Vaccines recognised in Switzerland are:
- Pfizer/BioNTech (BNT162b2 / Comirnaty / Tozinameran)
- Moderna (mRNA-1273 / Spikevax / COVID-19 vaccine Moderna)
- AstraZeneca (AZD1222 Vaxzevria / Covishield)
- Janssen / Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S)
- Sinopharm / BIBP (SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (Vero Cell))
- Sinovac (CoronaVac)
- Novavax (NVX-CoV2373 / Nuvaxovid / Covovax)
Additionally, if you intend to enter Switzerland by air or long-distance bus (coach) you must present a completed entry form within 48 hours of arrival. This also applies to people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID.
A COVID-19 recovery certificate no more than 270 days old can also be used to enter Switzerland, for those not fully vaccinated or whose vaccinated status has lapsed under these new rules.
Other EU VTL countries
While no official changes to the regulations regarding vaccine certificate validity have been announced by:
it’s safe to say they will probably all follow suit in the coming weeks by requiring a booster dose if your original full vaccination was completed more than 9 months ago.
The Netherlands has all but confirmed it will follow this requirement from 1st February 2022, while France is requiring you to have a booster shot to gain access public spaces like cafes, bars and malls, though not extending the requirement for entry itself just yet.
Even non-EU states will also probably fall in line, with the United Kingdom reportedly proposing to change the definition of fully vaccinated to include only those who have had a booster shot from spring this year.
Just as full vaccination was a requirement for quarantine-free travel starting in late 2021, booster doses in turn will also become an inevitable prerequisite as we progress into 2022.
Earlier this month Singapore announced it is putting a 270-day limit on fully vaccinated status for residents from mid-February, so most of our readers will be complying with the booster shot requirement to ‘reset the clock’ anyway, and should therefore run into very few issues when travelling.
While there has been no announcement yet, it also seems inevitable that Singapore’s VTL requirements will be updated to demand a booster dose for those fully vaccinated more than 9 months previously, when entering via the scheme from any country.
In the meantime if you’re planning a Europe trip imminently and you have not yet had your booster shot, but it’s approaching (or has already been) 270 days since you were fully vaccinated, it’s probably time to book your booster now, to retain your quarantine-free travel privileges if nothing else!
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)