What the expansion of the NHS Covid Pass to 12 to 15 year-olds means for your holiday

·2-min read
france ski holiday half term rules vaccination covid 19 omicron restrictions nhs app - Getty
france ski holiday half term rules vaccination covid 19 omicron restrictions nhs app - Getty

The updating of the NHS Covid Pass so that it will show evidence of vaccination for those aged 12-15 years is no longer relevant in the UK, because most restrictions have been removed, but it is very important for families who want to travel in Europe in the shorter term and potentially right through this year.

From February 3, access to the digital NHS Covid Pass has been extended to 12-15 year olds so that they can use it for international travel. This is just in time for half-term ski and winter sun holidays. The pass provides a record of Covid-19 vaccinations received (and will also show proof of recovery for 180 days following a positive NHS PCR test – but not a lateral flow).

It will be available via the nhs.uk website for those aged 12 and over and via the NHS App for those aged 13 and over. To get one of these, children will need to register for an NHS login to obtain a digital NHS Covid Pass. Children will continue to be exempt from vaccination requirements when returning to the UK from abroad.

Those aged 12-15 who have received a full course of an approved Covid-19 vaccination in England can request an NHS Covid Pass letter online via NHS.uk or by calling 119, or by asking a parent or guardian to request the letter on their behalf.

Requirements and restrictions vary hugely in different destinations but the biggest differences are in the rules for teenagers under the age of 18. For example, in France, it is a legal requirement for anyone aged 12 and above to show a pass sanitaire or NHS vaccination certificate to enter – or even to sit outside – a restaurant, café or bar and any venue such as a museum or attraction, or to ski in a ski resort. This means proof of two doses of a recognised vaccine, with the pass sanitaire activating seven days days after the second shot. For now, a booster requirement only applies to over-18s. It is currently possible to get tested everyday as an alternative, but this would be very expensive and time consuming and the option is likely to be removed soon, possibly this week.

Italy has similar rules – over-12s need a full course of vaccination to access hotels or restaurants – or proof of recovery from Covid (within the previous 180 days), as does Spain. A few countries treat under 16s as though they were fully vaccinated – currently including Iceland and Switzerland.

Full details of current regulations for key skiing destinations can be found here. A guide to half-term travel and requirements for popular destinations is here.

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