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 get 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.

NHS COVID Pass for use at venues and events in England

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. These people 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.

Information:

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 2D bar code
Using the NHS COVID Pass function on the NHS App

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 the NHS App
Example of PDF version of NHS COVID Pass from the NHS 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.

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

Screenshot of a COVID Pass letter
A COVID Pass letter for a two dose vaccine (England only branding)
Screenshot of a COVID Pass letter
A COVID Pass letter for a single dose vaccine (4 nation branding)
A COVID Pass letter for a two dose vaccine (4 nation branding)

Using Apple Wallet

Your customer can store their NHS COVID Pass into their Apple Wallet using an Apple iPhone. To do this, they will see the ‘Add to Apple Wallet’ button on their phone screen within the NHS App. If they store both international and domestic NHS COVID Passes, they will see two separate cards stored in their Apple Wallet.

You will be able to verify their NHS COVID Pass using the Verifier app by scanning their 2D barcode. The screen you will scan can be seen below. Please ensure you check the expiry date shown on their COVID Pass as the date does not refresh automatically. Customers need to store an updated NHS COVID Pass in their Apple Wallet before they next plan to use it, if their original COVID Pass is due to expire.

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
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 (for example 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

From 30 September, visitors from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey can show their international digital NHS COVID Pass at venues and settings in England. Users from England and Wales can use their domestic NHS COVID Pass as usual.

The NHS COVID Pass Verifier app can be used to scan the 2D barcode displayed on your customer’s phone or printed as a PDF. Scanning of these COVID Passes can be done using the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app in domestic mode.

Exemptions

There are a small number of exemptions for individuals who have a medical reason which means they should not be vaccinated, and in some cases should not test either. Medical exemption status cannot be based on testing alone.

From 1 October 2021, 11.30 am, you can apply for proof of evidence that you have a medical reason why you should not be vaccinated or tested. If you are eligible for proof of medical exemption, or a carer obtains this on your behalf, you will be able to use the domestic NHS COVID Pass wherever you need to prove your COVID-19 status.

Currently, businesses and event organisers in England that choose to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry can decide whether or not to allow in people who self-declare that they are unable to be vaccinated or tested.

Businesses can continue to accept people who self-declare that they are medically exempt until mid December 2021, from which point they have to use the NHS COVID Pass to gain entry in the same way that people who are fully vaccinated do. Your NHS COVID Pass will not show that you have a medical exemption.

You can find out more information including how to apply for the NHS COVID Pass to prove that you’re unable to be vaccinated or get tested.

Children

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