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.

On Wednesday 15 December at 6am, the coronavirus (COVID-19) rules on entering certain venues and events in England will change.

Those aged 18 or above will need to have proof that they are either:

  • fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with an approved vaccine
  • exempt, on the basis of a medical exemption or clinical trial participation
  • have tested negative using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or lateral flow test (LFT) within the last 48 hours

In an effort to minimise the transmission of COVID-19 within England, the UK government recommends the voluntary use of the NHS COVID Pass in venues where large crowds of people from multiple households mix for a sustained period of time. This is a safety measure to protect customers and workforces (including volunteers).

Guidance for organisations that must use the NHS COVID Pass

From Wednesday 15 December at 6am, some organisations (event organisers, venues, businesses) are now required to use the COVID status checks as a condition of entry.

Venues and events where the NHS COVID Pass must be used as a condition of entry are:

  • nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques
  • other late night dance venues, where all of the following apply:
    • the venues is open between 1am and 5am 
    • it serves alcohol during this time 
    • it has a dancefloor (or designated space for dancing)
    • it provides music, whether live or recorded, for dancing
  • indoor events with 500 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as music venues with standing audiences or large receptions
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as outdoor festivals
  • events with 10,000 or more attendees, whether indoor or outdoor, such as large sports and music events

What organisations must do

Organisations should take steps to make sure that all visitors aged 18 or above show an NHS COVID Pass, or approved proof of vaccination or testing, to enter the venue or event. 

Evidence of natural immunity must not be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination or testing. 

You can find more advice about carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks at your venue or event on the GOV.UK website.

To assist organisations with checking their customers’ COVID-19 status, the NHS has developed 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 or NHS.uk.  It scans the 2D barcode and confirms that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, had a negative test, or are exempt on the basis of a medical exemption or clinical trial participation. The Verifier App with confirm whether a Pass is valid and has not expired and also helps with the prevention of fraud

Find out about the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app.

NHS COVID Pass marketing assets toolkit for venues – mandatory certification in England

A toolkit has been produced which will contain a suite of  downloadable and easy-to-use assets and resources to enable venues and settings to use the NHS COVID Pass and Verifier app.  This can be used in settings where use of the NHS COVID Pass is mandatory as a condition of entry, or for businesses that wish to use the NHS COVID Pass on a voluntary basis. The resources include social media assets for your organisation's channels, posters, website images, email signatures and window or door stickers.

The assets have been designed to provide reassurance to the public knowing that other customers and staff have provided proof of vaccination, or a recent test, in order to enter. 

How your customers can access the NHS COVID Pass

People aged 18 or over can get an NHS COVID Pass for travel and domestic venues and events through COVID-19 vaccination or test results.

NHS COVID Pass for use at venues and events in England

Video transcript

NHS COVID Pass for use at venues and events in England.

If you haven't already you will need to download the NHS App to your smartphone.

This is not to be confused with the NHS COVID-19 App.

It's best to do this at least several days before you visit a venue or event.

You will need a mobile phone number and your date of birth to set up an NHS login to see your vaccination or test results. To open the NHS App. When you have downloaded it press the app icon which takes you to the home screen.

Press continue with the NHS login button.

You will need to enter your email address and provide a password.

Once you have set up your login with your ID at this stage you will arrive at a security code page. You will be sent a text with a six digit code, enter this and press continue.

OK you are now ready to click on 'NHS COVID Pass.' Click continue then the screen gives you a choice of Domestic or Travel. You will need to click on the Domestic link, it should show a green tick and say ‘Valid’.

You can choose to save your NHS COVID Pass to your phone as a PDF or directly to your wallet.

Please have your COVID Pass ready on your phone as you approach the event to show your COVID-19 status to a member of the venue or event team if you're asked to show this.

If you don't have access to a computer or smartphone and have been fully vaccinated you can call 119 for a copy of the NHS COVID Pass letter. The letter can take up to five working days to reach you so ensure you order it in good time before your event.

You can also download and print a PDF version of the letter through www.nhs.uk

If you have any further questions visit www.nhs.uk or call 119 and select 'NHS COVID Pass Service.'

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
  • if exempt on the basis of an approved medical exemption or participation in a formally approved COVID-19 clinical trial

Those on formally-approved COVID-19 vaccine trials 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. Pregnant women can demonstrate their exemption with their maternity certificate.

Individuals under 18 should not be required to demonstrate COVID-19 status in settings where the NHS COVID Pass is used.

Information:

Find out more about the NHS COVID Pass.

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 the NHS 119 service).

Customers should also be able to show text or email confirmation of a negative test result from NHS Test and Trace.

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. Businesses are strongly encouraged to use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app to check the validity of the NHS COVID Pass.

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.

Access requirements (letter requests)

If a person has accessibility requirements they may request an NHS COVID Pass letter to be sent to them either via the NHS website or by calling 119 if they do not have access to a smartphone, computer or tablet. We expect the letter to take up to 5 working days to reach the recipient. These letters are available in Braille, large print and other accessible formats.

The letter will be sent to the address registered with the person's GP. If the individual has recently moved house, they should make sure they have provided their GP with their new address. given the new address for the GP practice before requesting a letter.

Remember

  • The NHS App is free.
  • The NHS COVID Pass is free.
  • The NHS will never ask for payment or any financial details.
  • The NHS App is not the same as the NHS COVID-19 app.

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

Occasionally there can be signal drop-outs and customers are unable to retrieve their NHS COVID Pass but these are extremely rare. To allay this concern, customers should be encouraged to download a copy of their NHS COVID Pass and store it in their Apple or Google Wallet or download a PDF version and save to their mobile phone file before attending the event.

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.

A COVID Pass displayed using 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.

Using Google Pay Wallet

Your customer can store their NHS COVID Pass in their Google Pay Wallet on an Android phone. To do this they can use the ‘Google Pay - save to phone’ button within the NHS App. If they store both international and domestic NHS COVID Passes, they will see multiple cards stored in their Google Pay 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 NHS COVID pass as the date does not refresh automatically. Customers need to store an updated NHS COVID Pass in their Google Wallet before they next plan to use it, if their original NHS COVID Pass is due to expire.

NHS COVID Pass screen showing the option to add the pass to a Google Pay Wallet
NHS COVID Pass screen showing the option to add the pass to a Google Pay Wallet

How to validate your customer’s COVID Pass

Organisers are strongly encouraged 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. The Verifier App can scan the NHS COVID Pass presented on the NHS App, NHS.uk or the PDF download and international certification solutions linked with the EU Gateway (now over 50 countries).

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).

A number of measures have also been implemented to 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 member of staff 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.

Visual checks of the letter or app

If your member of staff is unable to scan an NHS COVID Pass using the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app, then we recommend that they conduct a visual check.

The NHS COVID Pass can be an official letter from the NHS 119 service, or a PDF printed at home.

The NHS 119 letter will show one or more barcodes and list the full course of COVID-19 vaccines received. When using the Verifier to scan, please scan the very latest barcode which represents the latest vaccination received.

Physical security features to look for in the NHS 119 letter are:

  1. thermochromic ink - the blue arrow fades when heat is applied
  2. the grey box displays a “COPY” void mark if photocopied
  3. “NHSPOSTVACCINATIONLETTER” micro text is printed on the top and bottom of the dose information table
  4. vaccination dose information overlaid on top of an NHS guilloche patterned background (wavy lines) to prevent modification
  5. the holder’s first name and surname and date of birth

You can see these design and security features in the sample letter below. All the types of letter below are acceptable as evidence of COVID-19 vaccination status.

When checking the letter, you will need to ensure that 14 days have passed since your customer received a final dose of a vaccine, meaning dose 2 of a 2 dose vaccine, or dose 1 of 1 for a single dose vaccine.

A COVID Pass letter for a two dose vaccine with security design features highlighted
A COVID Pass letter for a two dose vaccine (4 nation branding) with security design features highlighted

If your customer has had a COVID-19 booster vaccination

Since 19 November, booster vaccinations show in the NHS COVID Pass. Your customers will be able to demonstrate that they have received a booster vaccination using the NHS COVID Pass via the NHS App and the nhs.uk website. From 10 December, booster vaccinations will also show on the NHS COVID Pass letter for international travel.

For international travel

If your customer has received a booster vaccination, it will show in their NHS COVID Pass within 5 days of receiving their vaccine.

Their COVID Pass for travel will then show a 2D barcode for their booster first, followed by their full course of vaccinations. This will also apply if they present a PDF of their NHS COVID Pass for travel, or show their travel pass stored within their Apple or Google Wallet.

If you are using the Verifier app to scan the 2D barcode of your customer’s NHS COVID Pass, you should continue to scan barcode 1 of 1 or 2 of 2. You do not need to scan the 2D barcode of their booster vaccination. This which will be clearly identified as "[Booster]" and labelled as ‘Dose 3 of 3’ within the NHS COVID Pass.

Find out more about the Verifier app.

For domestic use in England

Booster vaccinations are not required to get an NHS COVID Pass for use in England. There is only one barcode displayed on the NHS COVID Pass for a digital domestic pass, so please use the Verifier app to scan this.

Screenshot of a COVID Pass international page showing a booster vaccination
Screenshots of a COVID Pass showing details of a booster dose

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.

International certification accepted at the border is also accepted at events and venues in England, see Approved COVID-19 vaccines and countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination on GOV.UK.

International visitors can also show a text or email confirming a negative test recorded with NHS Test and Trace.

Visitors from the European Union and countries or territories linked with the EU Gateway

Over 50 countries are now linked with the EU Gateway. The NHS COVID Pass Verifier app can be used to scan the 2D barcode of an EU Digital COVID Certificate shown on a phone or printed as a PDF or on solutions linked with the EU Gateway. A successful scan will only display if your customer has been fully vaccinated and it is at least 14 days since their final dose of a vaccine.

Your customer may show their EU Digital COVID Certificate when attending your venue or event. An EU Digital COVID Certificate is a digital proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The above criteria need to apply in order to generate a 2D barcode using the Verifier app, otherwise the screen will show ‘2D barcode not recognised’.

Your customer may show their EU Digital COVID Certificate in a digital format on their phone or printed as a PDF, or in paper format in the form of a letter. Each country using the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) has its own healthcare app which contains their certificate.

More information can be found at EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Estonian COVID-19 certificate
Sample image of an EU DCC Certificate

Paper versions of the EU Digital COVID Certificate should contain a 2D barcode which can be scanned using the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app.

List of EU countries in the EU Gateway

More information on how to use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app to verify the status of international travellers

Visitors from the USA

The United States COVID-19 vaccination record card (CDC card) is accepted as valid proof of vaccination for entry into domestic venues and settings in England.

United States COVID-19 vaccination record card (CDC card)

The United States COVID-19 vaccination record card (CDC card) details COVID-19 vaccinations including the vaccine manufacturer, the dose numbers and the date and location each was administered.

THE US CDC card is in paper format and cannot be scanned using the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app. Your staff will therefore need to undertake a visual check.

The US CDC card should be accepted in its original physical form only. A photocopy or image on a phone should not be accepted.

When examining a customer’s US CDC card, your venue staff should check the ’Date of Vaccination’ of the final dose (marked ‘2 of 2’ or ‘1 of 1’). This must be at least 14 days prior to arrival.

Example of a USA CDC card
Example of CDC card

International travellers from other countries (non EU and United States)

If your venue asks customers to demonstrate their COVID-19 status, then you can accept the evidence that your customer presented at the border when entering England.

List of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination for travel to England and examples of proof of vaccination

List of third non-EU countries whose evidence can be scanned by the COVID Pass Verifier app

Visitors from the rest of the UK

Visitors from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey and Guernsey can show their international digital NHS COVID Pass at venues and settings in England. Users from England, Isle of Man 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
  • a pdf which is stored to a mobile phone or printed via the 2D barcode on the paper NHS COVID Pass letter

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.

You can now 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.

From 15 December businesses and event organisers in England that use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry will no longer be able to allow access to those people who self-declare that they are unable to be vaccinated or tested.

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.

Proof of clinical trial exemption

All clinical trial participants should now be able to access their domestic NHS COVID Pass via the NHS App or NHS.UK for use in England. 

Trial participants will also be able to see details of their trial vaccines in their NHS COVID Pass if their clinical trial site has uploaded vaccination information onto the NHS vaccine database. Participants should check with their clinical trial site that their data has been transferred if they cannot yet access their NHS COVID Pass for domestic or travel purposes.

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

Children

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