Covid Passports: How To Get One, How To Use One, And Can It Be Fake?

By Jordan Kenny and Peter Hamill

Image source, fake images

Covid passports are unlikely to be legally applied before mid-December as there will be a 14-day grace period.

Covid-19 vaccine passports are likely to be introduced in Northern Ireland on 29 November, according to the Department of Health.

Its use will cause people to provide a passport or proof of a negative Covid test result to access places like nightclubs, pubs and restaurants.

A two-week grace period to give people time to adjust to change will last until December 13.

But where do you get one, how do you use it, and when do you use it?

About 280,000 travel passes have already been issued, which can be used to activate national certificates, according to Dr. Eddie O’Neill of the Department of Health.

He told BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster that the majority of the public would accept that the introduction of the passport scheme was “for good reason.”

How do you get one?

To start a Covid certificate request, you must first set up an account on the NI Direct website. If you don’t already have one, this will require you to verify your identity with a photo ID.

Then you need to download the COVIDCertNI app.

After logging in, you will be able to request a travel certificate. These have been in operation in Northern Ireland since July.

Once your travel certificate has been approved, you will be able to update and activate a national certificate.


National certificates have three components, a QR code, a selfie, and an HSC logo.

Upon activating your national certificate, you will be asked to take a selfie which will then be seen along with the QR code each time you present your pass.

The national certificate will be provided “within minutes,” according to Dr. O’Neill.

People without smartphones can request a printed version of the certificate by calling 0300 200 7814 between 08:00 and 20:00 GMT from Monday to Sunday.

Those with a paper certificate will need to show a photo ID upon presentation to prove their identity.

Once the identity verifications have been completed, it can take up to 10 business days for the printed certificate to arrive, says the NI Direct website.

What certificate do I use, travel or national?

Once your national certificate has been approved, you will have two certificates on your application.

The national certificate should be used when visiting any location that requires it within the UK.

The travel certificate must be used anywhere outside the UK.

What places will ask to see certificates?

It is understood that the measure would be applied to access:

  • Hospitality venues serving food and drink.
  • Cinemas, theaters, concert halls and conference centers
  • Indoor events with 500 or more attendees with part or all of the audience not normally seated
  • Outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees with part or all of the audience not normally seated
  • Events where more than 10,000 people will be present regardless of whether they are seated

“They are basically high risk places where [the Northern Ireland Executive] believes that the risk of transmission is higher, “said Dr. O’Neill.

What should places do?

Hospitality venues and other businesses where passes will be required to enter can download the COVIDCert Check NI app on smartphones or tablets.

The application allows you to scan QR codes of both travel and national certificates.

If the QR code is verified, the screen will display a green screen containing a mark.

If the QR code is not verified, the screen will display a red screen containing a cross.

What information can the door staff see when they scan my QR code?

Once the QR code has been scanned, staff using the COVIDCert Check NI app will only see a green tick or a red cross, depending on whether the certificate has been accepted or not.

National certificates show the selfie taken upon request, which staff can use to verify your identity.

Will other types of Covid certificate be accepted?

The COVIDCert Check NI app accepts EU travel certificates as well as NHS vaccination certificates used in Scotland, England and Wales.

Can the certificates be falsified?

The Department of Health will also provide certificates showing that someone has recovered from Covid-19, according to Dr. O’Neill.

However, the announcement about the introduction of recovery and vaccine certificates has raised questions about fraud and whether they could be falsified.

Dr. O’Neill said that so far about 30 applications have been submitted presenting fraudulent Covid-19 vaccine cards.

Image source, fake images

The QR code on the CovidCertNI app, along with other measures, has been designed to prevent fraud.

As the smartphone screen is moved, the shading of the HSC logo will change, allowing staff to see that it is not a screenshot.

The QR code displayed on the certificates is also updated once a minute.

“If you take a screenshot and try to send it to one of your friends to use, the scanner will detect that it is fake,” said Dr. O’Neill.

Will the app work on my device?

Both applications released require the operating system iOS 9.0 or later to work on iPhones, iPod Touch and iPads.

For Android devices, applications require operating system 5.0 or later.

The apps are available to download for free from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

How do we get to this point?

Since late summer there have been high-level discussions on the introduction of mandatory Covid passports for home use in Northern Ireland.

At that stage, few political parties supported the idea. In September, SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon proposed the change to other executive colleagues.

He was rejected at that stage, and the ministers instead opted for provide advice on vaccine certification mitigations but this could not be legally enforced.

Ms Mallon and Alliance Party Justice Minister Naomi Long said they wanted mandatory vaccine passports introduced before the reopening of the nightclub sector in Northern Ireland on October 31, when the rules Social distancing measures were also eliminated at hospitality venues.

In mid-October, the Stormont ministers published a contingency plan that referred to the “potential” deployment of Covid-19 status certification in “higher risk environments” but said it would require the executive’s agreement.

On November 1, the Department of Health Launched the COVIDCert Check NI App to Allow Companies to Scan Vaccine Certificates “Voluntary Use” of Vaccine Controls in entertainment and hospitality venues.

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