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Stop sign for virus: EU launches secure digital Covid certificate

On 1 July 2021, the European Union's digital Covid certificate came into force

July 01 2021

Living Europe in the digital fight against the pandemic

The second Corona summer is just around the corner and many people are longing for holidays and travel. But how does travelling during the pandemic work? There is good news from the European Union. On 1st July, the digital Covid certificate came into force throughout the EU. The certificate serves as proof that the user has been vaccinated against Covid, has tested negative or has recovered. For citizens of the European Union, the certificate will make it easier to travel even in times of pandemic. On behalf of the European Commission, SAP and T-Systems have jointly developed and implemented the technical foundation that will enable member states across Europe to verify Covid certificates.

Decentralised and secure

Detail of a city map with Covid certificate of the EU

The EU's digital Covid certificate takes the form of a QR code and is stored locally on the user's smartphone in a wallet app. The certificate is also available on paper, free of charge, and valid throughout the EU. It contains the necessary central information such as name, date of birth and date of issue, as well as details of the vaccine or test. However, this data is neither stored nor retained during a certificate check. Only the validity of the national signatures is exchanged and checked via the European interface. All health-related data remain with the Member State that issued the EU certificate. In addition, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway have also introduced the EU certificate, and Switzerland is soon to follow. Talks with other countries are underway.

Successful in the joint project

When the certificates are checked, a digital signature located in the QR code is verified. T-Systems and SAP have developed a gateway on behalf of the European Commission, through which signature keys are exchanged between national backends. This gateway is located in Luxembourg and hosted by the European Commission. In addition, the two companies have developed reference software and apps that the Commission makes available to member states. Both reference software and apps have been published transparently on GitHub and are used by 12 member states.

Through this project, we are 'living’ Europe. Developers from all member states thought and worked in a European way and supported each other intensively. That was great to experience. In less than 60 days, the SAP and T-Systems project team managed to set up this modern infrastructure for Europe-wide digital health certificates. After the good experience we already had with the networking of the European tracing apps in cooperation with the European Commission and SAP, this was a successful next step.

Peter Lorenz, project manager at T-Systems

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