Using the NHS COVID Pass

What is the NHS COVID Pass

The NHS COVID Pass lets individuals share their coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination and test results in a secure way.

The government has made the NHS COVID Pass available as a means for individuals to demonstrate COVID status and for organisations to check it, if organisations choose to use it.

The government will work with organisations that operate large, crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household to encourage the use of the NHS COVID Pass.

The NHS COVID Pass can be checked visually or scanned using the NHS Verifier app.

Other proofs of COVID status, including text message and email confirmation of test results and letters proving vaccine status should also be accepted.

There are some settings where the NHS COVID Pass should not be used as a condition of entry, in order to ensure access for all. This includes essential services and essential retailers which have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic.

How to obtain the NHS COVID Pass

If you’re aged 18 or over, you can get an NHS COVID Pass for travel abroad and domestic venues and events depending on your vaccination or COVID-19 test results.

Domestic

For domestic purposes, those 18 and over can obtain an NHS COVID Pass:

  • two weeks after completing a full course of vaccination, whether that requires two doses or one dose - after two doses of the Moderna, AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines, or after one dose of the Janssen vaccine
  • with evidence of a negative PCR or rapid lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of entry to a venue, with both at-home and on-site (where available) being accepted - a lateral flow test taken at home will need to be reported into the public reporting system
  • with proof of natural immunity shown by a positive PCR test result for COVID-19, lasting for 180 days from the date of the positive test and following completion of the self-isolation period

There is also an exemption for people who have received a trial vaccine as part of a formally-approved COVID-19 vaccine trial in the UK will be able to prove their status through the NHS COVID Pass or with a letter confirming their participation in the trial. All trial participants have received confirmatory letters:

  • Individuals under 18 should not be required to demonstrate COVID status in settings where the NHS COVID Pass is used.
  • Individuals who have a medical reason which means they cannot be vaccinated or tested may be asked to self-declare this medical exemption.

Find out more about the NHS COVID Pass.

Should my organisation use the NHS COVID Pass

Use of the NHS COVID Pass is voluntary for individual organisations, however we encourage the use of the NHS COVID Pass in facilities or events where people are likely to be in close proximity to a large number of people from other households for a sustained period of time.

This is likely to include settings that have the following characteristics:

  • Crowded, unstructured indoor settings such as nightclubs and music venues.
  • Large unstructured outdoor events such as business events and festivals.
  • Very large structured events such as business events, music and spectator sport events.

There are some settings where the NHS COVID Pass should not be used as a condition of entry, in order to ensure access for all. This includes essential services and essential retailers which have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic.

If you use the NHS COVID Pass, you should ensure that you comply with all relevant legal obligations and guidance, including on equalities.

Even when using the NHS COVID Pass, it is still important that you follow other relevant guidance and put measures in place.

Further guidance on working safely during COVID-19 on the GOV.UK website.

How your customers can demonstrate their COVID-19 status at your venue or event

COVID status can be demonstrated in a number of ways, including through the NHS COVID Pass (accessed through the NHS App, the NHS website, or as a letter that can be requested by ringing 119). Customers should also be able to show text or email confirmation of test results.

If you are intending to ask your customers to demonstrate their COVID-19 status, please ensure your website and customer communications make this request clear. You may wish to link to the GOV.UK page about demonstrating your COVID-19 status to help your customers with advice and information.

Your customers can use one of the following to demonstrate that they have a valid NHS COVID Pass:

Through the NHS App on a smartphone screen

Using the NHS COVID Pass function on the NHS App, a customer can demonstrate their COVID status using the domestic option.

Venue or event operators will need to check for the screen below and that the expiry date and time are valid.

NHS COVID Pass screen shot showing bar code

Through a PDF shown on a smartphone screen

Using the domestic option on the app, your customer can also download the NHS COVID Pass to their phone. This can also be printed off.

Venue or event operators will need to check for the pdf below on their smartphone screen. Please check the expiry date on the screen.

Example of pdf version of NHS COVID Pass from app

Through the NHS COVID Pass letter

Your customer or employee can request proof of vaccination by telephoning 119, or via the NHS website and have a letter sent to them.

How to get your NHS COVID Pass letter

Venue operators will need to check the NHS COVID Pass letter. See samples below:

Example of COVID vaccination letter for 2 dose vaccine

A COVID Pass letter for a two dose vaccine (England only branding)

Example of COVID vaccination letter for 1 dose vaccine

A COVID Pass letter for a single dose vaccine (four nation branding)

Example of COVID vaccination letter for 2 dose vaccine

A COVID Pass letter for a two dose vaccine (four nation branding)

Proof of clinical trial exemption

People who have received a trial vaccine as part of a formally-approved COVID-19 vaccine trial in the UK will be able to prove their status through the NHS COVID Pass or with a letter confirming their participation in the trial.

Those who have participated in a clinical vaccination trial have been provided with a letter from their clinical research site.

Example of letter showing exemption through participation in a clinical trial

How to validate your customer’s COVID Pass

It is recommended that organisers cross-check the identity of the person displaying their COVID Pass status with other forms of identification (e.g. name of person on the ticket or driving license).

We have also implemented a number of measures which help events or venues validate and authenticate the COVID Pass information presented to them:

  • The shimmering effect on the COVID Pass screen within the NHS App helps reduce the risk of fraud as it demonstrates to the checker they are looking at an active app, not just a photo or screenshot shared by someone else
  • PDF documents downloaded from the NHS App contain a machine readable 2D barcode which protects against fraud. The details encoded inside the barcode cannot be edited so would no longer align if the PDF were to be doctored or tampered with
  • COVID Pass letters ordered via the NHS 119 service are printed with microtext, thermochromic ink and other features to prevent copying, and a barcode (a unique reference that can be used to verify an individual’s COVID vaccination record).

Organisers may also choose to use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app to validate their customer’s COVID status. The Verifier app enables venues to safely validate a customer's COVID-19 status by scanning the 2D barcode presented on the NHS App or the PDF download. Further information on the Verifier app can be found on the Using the NHS COVID Pass page.

International travellers

For those travelling to an event from abroad, there is guidance on entering England.

You must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel to England. Find out more about Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing before you travel to England.

Visitors from the rest of the UK

The NHS COVID Pass on the NHS App can be used by residents of England. Customers from other parts of the UK can present proof of COVID status via text and email confirmation of test status or by requesting a letter showing vaccination status in the common format displayed above.

Exemptions

There will also be a small number of exemptions for individuals who have a medical reason which means they cannot vaccinate or test. These individuals will need to self-declare their medical exemption directly with you.

A digital solution is being developed which will enable individuals with a medical exemption to show their COVID-19 status using the NHS COVID Pass. In the interim, please follow the advice below.

Please be mindful and respectful where there are potentially circumstances where a customer or individual cannot safely demonstrate their COVID-19 status by taking a vaccination or a test. This could include people:

  • with learning disabilities or autistic individuals, or with a combination of impairments which result in the same distress.
  • those suffering from or under medical supervision for acute or evolving serious diseases or those receiving palliative care or undergoing treatment with unpleasant side effects.

Event or venue organisers in England that choose to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry can decide whether to accept self-declared medical exemptions where an individual cannot vaccinate or test, ensuring they comply with the Equalities Act 2010.

Your customers may declare a medical exemption directly with you. You and your staff should not ask for evidence of the exemption.

If businesses decide to require evidence of Covid-19 status as a condition of entry, they should ensure that they comply with all the relevant legal obligations (for example, the Equalities Act 2010) and guidance that applies.

Please consider the following steps and ensure your staff are briefed, in circumstances where you experience a customer entering your venue or event who is not able to demonstrate their COVID-19 status.

You may see an individual wearing a visual cue to indicate they are declaring a medical exemption from testing and vaccination. Please note any form of visual cue that indicates an exemption should be respected. This can include a handmade version. It is not mandatory for an individual to wear a visual cue to outline they are exempt. You should not ask these individuals to demonstrate their COVID-19 status through the NHS App.

If you cannot see a visual cue but need to ask a customer to demonstrate their COVID-19 status or declare a medical exemption, please keep your distance to help protect them. If you are wearing a face covering, you may need to temporarily remove this so your full face and mouth can be seen when speaking with them, which can aid lip reading and facial expression reading.

Please ask your customer if they can demonstrate their COVID-19 status using the NHS COVID Pass.. This allows your customer to respond with information about a self declared medical exemption.

If your customer confirms that they have a self declared exemption, but is unable to show any evidence, you should allow them access to your venue or event. You must not ask for proof of their medical exemption and it is not essential they show any form of exemption card at any point.

Examples of visual cues individuals may be wearing

Please note any form of visual cue that indicates an exemption should be respected, however these are the most common you may see.

This may be as a badge, lanyard, or other.

covid_pass_exempt.png

The Sunflower Lanyard scheme

The initiative acts as a discreet sign that somebody has a hidden disability. Your customer may show a form of the sunflower card. For samples of imagery please visit Hidden Disabilities

Children

Individuals under 18 should not be required to demonstrate COVID status in settings where the NHS COVID Pass is used.

The NHS COVID Pass Verifier app

How to use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app at your venue or event

To assist organisations with checking their customers’ COVID-19 status, the NHS has developed a scanner app called the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app.

The official NHS COVID Pass Verifier app is a secure way to verify an individual’s NHS COVID Pass presented on the NHS App. It verifies that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, had a negative test, or have recovered from COVID-19.

A user, such as a member of your staff, can use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app to scan and verify an individual’s NHS COVID Pass, in order to gain access to your venue or event.

The app can be used to scan a 2D barcode within the NHS COVID Pass. It does not store or transmit any personal data during this process.

Event or venue organisations in England can download the free NHS COVID Pass Verifier app from the Apple or Google app stores.

NHS COVID Pass Verifier app user guide for domestic use in England

This user guide will help organisations in England if they wish their customers to demonstrate their COVID-19 status when entering their venue or event.

Read the Verifier user guide for domestic use

Download a printable version of the domestic user guide (PDF, 404 KB)

NHS COVID Pass Verifier app user guide for international use

This user guide helps travel operators to use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app to show if an English or Welsh resident traveling abroad has the necessary COVID-19 status for international travel.

Read the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app for international use

Download a printable version of the international user guide (PDF, 559 KB)

The NHS COVID Pass Verifier app can scan the NHS COVD Pass via a mobile or tablet or where someone has printed off a PDF version from their phone.

It is not able to scan the 1D barcode on a letter which your customer has requested by telephoning the NHS 119 service. If your customer displays a letter requested via 119, your staff will need to check the letter and expiry date manually.

NHS COVID Pass Verifier app terms and conditions

Read the NHS COVID Pass verifier terms and conditions.

On the NHSX blog, you can read more about how the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app was developed.

NHS COVID Pass Verifier app data protection

Read the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app privacy notice.

To provide reassurance to venue and event operators that they are viewing a genuine NHS App, the NHS COVID Pass, within the NHS App, has a range of security features.

A customer’s COVID status is clearly displayed visually within the NHS App. The screenshot below illustrates how a successful COVID-19 status will be displayed.

NHS COVID Pass screen shot showing bar code

Technical guidance

If you experience issues with the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app, please delete the application and reinstall it.

You may be required to undertake a software update on your mobile device too.

The NHS website includes support pages for technical issues with the NHS App and a form to contact the NHS App team.

The NHS suite of products, used in demonstrating and verifying COVID-19 status, are rigorously tested and developed and functionality will be upgraded as required.