Belgium is now officially recognising vaccination certificates issued in England and Wales to allow travellers to prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus before entering the country, announced Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.
Since Monday 2 August, fully-vaccinated travellers have officially been able to enter the whole of the UK from the EU and the US without having to quarantine. Belgium is now reciprocating this recognition for anyone who has been vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine in England or Wales.
"All the necessary adjustments to the scan-app and the backend to be able to read and validate certificates issued in England and Wales have been made," announced Vandenbroucke in a press release on Thursday.
In practice, this means that travellers fully vaccinated in England or Wales are now allowed to enter Belgian territory without having to quarantine for ten days by showing their NHS Covid certificate as proof of vaccination.
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"The team of Frank Robben and Digitaal Vlaanderen (which developed Belgium's CovidSafe app) have realised this technically, and in such a way that the authenticity of the certificates can also be checked," he said. "So it is a very secure tool."
However, Belgium can currently only verify electronic signatures issued in England and Wales.
Northern Ireland and Scotland use their own electronic signature, which cannot (yet) be checked, but discussions to enable their use as well are underway, Vandenbroucke stated.
"Travellers from the UK must, of course, continue to meet all the conditions for travelling to Belgium from outside the EU," the authorities stress.
What are the rules?
UK travellers with an NHS vaccination certificate entering Belgium have to:
– be tested on day 1 or 2 of their arrival in Belgium;
– quarantine until they receive their negative test result.
The current rules will remain unchanged for those arriving from the UK without a vaccination certificate; they will have to:
– do a PCR test no longer than 72 hours before arriving in Belgium. This test must be negative. Or you must have a test or recovery certificate.
– quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Belgium. Get tested on day 1 and 7 of your stay in Belgium.
All incoming travellers must complete the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) within 48 hours of arrival in Belgium, even if they have been vaccinated.
This recognition makes England and Wales the first countries with which Belgium finds a bilateral solution for the recognition of vaccination certificates.
"In the current state of affairs, that is, of course, a very good thing, but such bilateral solutions remain quite exceptional," Vandenbroucke said. "It would be much better if such issues of mutual recognition were first settled at the European level."
Other vaccination certificates from third countries are currently not accepted by Belgium.