Vaccine certification - FAQs last updated - 13 December 2021
- Frequently Asked Questions - https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/faqs-covid-status-certification
- Information for businesses - https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-covid-certification-scheme
- How to apply for a Domestic Certificate - https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/apply-domestic-covid-vaccination-certificate
- Guidance to the verifier app for businesses - https://covid-19.hscni.net/covidcert-check-ni-mobile-app/
- Guidance for relevant venues and events - https://covid-19.hscni.net/covidcert-check-ni-guidance-for-venues-event-organisers/.
- Guidance on recording a Rapid Antigen result - www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/test-results/report-a-rapid-lateral-flow-test-result/
- General guidance on the Regulations - www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/guidance-accompany-health-protection-coronavirus-restrictions-regulations-northern-ireland-2021
- Scientific Evidence - www.health-ni.gov.uk/covid-19-scientific-evidence.
- Human Rights Impact Assessment - Human Rights Impact Assessment for Introduction of Covid Status Certification | Department of Health (health-ni.gov.uk)
Covid Status Certification has been introduced by the Department of Health, with approval from the Executive, in an attempt to stop transmission of COVID-19 in high-risk settings.
Q. Why has it been brought in?
In light of the serious and increasing pressure on our hospital system and continuing high number of COVID cases, the Executive has agreed to implement the Covid Status Certification Scheme.
Q. What is the aim of the scheme?
The aim of the Covid Status Certification scheme is:
- to protect the health of the population by limiting the spread of COVID-19 infection in order to minimise the numbers of cases and deaths, and
- to ensure as far as possible that the health care system has the capacity to care for COVID-19 patients and care for all patients, present and future.
The aim of the combination of these measures is to allow as much of society and the economy to function in a near normal way as possible, and to minimise the potential need for more severe restrictions to avoid the hospital system from becoming overwhelmed.
Q. What is the science behind this?
- Due to the nature of interactions, close proximity of interactions, length of stay, high frequency of contacts and confined shared environments, the sectors that will now require Covid-status certification are deemed “high risk” for transmission of COVID-19.
- If attendance at high risk settings is limited to individuals who are less likely to be infectious there will be a reduced risk of virus transmission in those settings
- There is overwhelming evidence that vaccination reduces the risk of becoming infected with the virus and in particular that it reduces the risk of serious illness requiring hospitalization
- In addition, a recent negative test or recovery from positive test also reduce risk of transmission
- There Covid-status certification will have the following benefits:
- It will reduce virus transmission, primarily by reducing the likelihood of infections individuals entering high risk settings
- Hence, it will reduce the risk of serious illness and death and in doing so alleviate current and future pressure on the healthcare system
Q. When does the Scheme start?
Certification will be required for entry to the selected settings from Monday 29 November. However, to give the scheme time to bed in and to address any teething problems, there was no enforcement for the first 14 days. However, as of Monday 13 December, enforcement provisions are in place.
No – the Covid Status Certification scheme allows an individual to prove their status by three different methods:
- Proof of Full Vaccination (two courses, booster is not required)
- Negative Lateral Flow antigen test within two calendar days
- Previous positive test for COVID-19, between 30-180 days old
Further information on each of these methods is available below.
Certification is required in the following settings:
- Licensed hospitality premises which serve food and/or drink on the premises;
This includes pubs or restaurants that serve alcohol, including Bring Your Own. It also includes sports stadiums that sell alcohol. Coffee shops are not included.
- Indoor events with 500 or more attendees; (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated). This means where the crowd are usually standing, such as indoor music concerts.
- Outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees; (where some or all of the audience are not normally seated)
- events where more than 10,000 people will be present, regardless of whether or not they will be seated;
- Unlicensed hospitality premises when BYO alcohol is consumed or during times when they are operating under an occasional license;
- Cinemas, theatres and conference halls.
Are takeaway premises in scope?
No – Only where there is consumption on the premises are premises in scope.
Proof of Double Vaccination
There are three different ways to prove your double vaccination:
(a) Digitally using the COVID Cert NI App.
Search for “COVID Cert NI App” on your smart phones app to download the app. An NI Direct account will be required. The app will link to your vaccination status and produce a unique QR code that will be scanned at venues.
(b) Paper Based Pass
Those without access to technology can apply for a paper-based pass from the Department of Health giving proof of vaccination status, which uses secure printing methods which prevent against fraud, and contains a QR code acceptable by the Verifier App used by venues. Photo ID is required to be used alongside this method. For this method please telephone 03002007814 between 8am & 8pm. Please note this method can take up to 10 days to arrive.
(c) Using your proof of vaccination card
The card showing proof of vaccination can be used alongside photo ID as an alternative to the above methods.
A negative COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test (commonly known as a rapid lateral flow test) taken either the day of, or the day before entering a relevant place or event.
Lateral Flow tests can be obtained for free at community pharmacies, as well as online at https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
Proof of the negative test is required, by reporting the result to https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result - then either the email or text message should be presented to the venue, alongside photo ID.
Previous Positive Test
Proof of a previous positive COVID-19 test, between 30-180 days. Proof is either the text or email confirming your positive test, alongside photo ID. There is a minimum 30 day time since confirmation of a positive test to ensure there is no risk of remaining contagious.
No, there is no requirement for a booster vaccine for this scheme.
Q. What if I’ve only had one dose?
Two doses are needed to use the vaccinated method. However you can still use proof of a negative test. It is recommended that everyone receive two doses, clinics are still available to get a second dose.
Exemptions to the Scheme
Q. Who are exempt from the scheme?
A very small number of people are exempt from vaccination due to clinical reasons. The following individuals are exempt from providing Covid Status Certification for the required settings:
- Under 18s – children are not required to show status in any setting
- The person responsible for the premises -
- People working or performing in the venues -
- a person providing services in a venue to which the certification applies, as long as they are not working there when the public is attending and don’t come into contact with the public; and
- Hotel residents unless/until they enter a hospitality area of the hotel.
- Participants in a clinical trial of a vaccine against Coronavirus disease – Proof of this is required to be uploaded to the COVID Cert NI App
- People who cannot be vaccinated for clinical reasons and who have been given an exemption by way of the official process for obtaining a medical exemption – proof of this exemption will be required to be uploaded to the COVID Cert NI App;
- Police, Emergency Services Responders and Regulators carrying out their work.
Q. How to apply for proof of exemption on clinical grounds?
It is envisaged that this will only apply to a small amount of individuals.
The exemption process has been available from 10 December 2021.
Those seeking exemption can get the relevant documentation by phoning the helpline on 0300 200 7814, which is available Monday to Sunday 0800 to 2000. The process includes screening questions, confirmation from relevant Health Trust and then production of a printed digital certificate. Details of grounds for clinical exemption will be updated on NI Direct
(An exemption will apply to those people who cannot be vaccinated for clinical reasons and have been given an exemption by way of the official process for obtaining a medical exemption.)
Q. What settings are exempt from the scheme?
The following settings are exempt from Covid-status certification:
- Places of Worship - A place of worship or a place where beliefs are practised during an act of worship
- Services - any funeral, marriage ceremony, civil partnership registration, or gathering which relates to a funeral, marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration. However, this does not include a reception held in hospitality premises.
- Any outdoor event in a public space which is not ticketed and/or for which no charge for entry is made (which would include an organised picket or protest).
- Ports/Airports hospitality venues;
- Cross-border rail services – this relates specifically to the Belfast to Dublin Enterprise train;
- Outdoor mass participation events such as a marathon, triathlon, or charity walk;
- Drive-in events;
- Organised pickets;
- Outdoor public or street markets;
- Illuminated trails or pathways – such as Christmas lights displays;
- Educational settings – however any licensed or unlicensed area accessible to the public where alcohol is consumed would not be exempt).
Q. When will this scheme end?
The scheme, as with all restriction regulations, will be kept under regular review by the Executive
Q. What are the penalties for failing to comply with the regulations?
There are a range of Fixed Penalty Notices between £200 and £10,000 and can result in prosecution.
Q. Who is legally responsible?
The onus will be on the venue to verify Certification before entry however it will be an offense if a person makes, adapts, supplies or offers to supply false evidence of COVID status to another person which they know is false or misleading or if a person who, without reasonable excuse, obstructs a person carrying out a function under the regulations.
Q. I already have an international travel certificate. How do I get a domestic use certificate?
Please ensure you have updated the latest version of the app. Please click the ‘+ Activate Domestic Certificate’ button. This should prompt you to follow a number of steps and take a selfie. The certificate should then be available for view within the app.
Q. I cannot see an option to activate a domestic certificate in my app. How do I generate a certificate?
Please follow the below steps:
- Go to your iPhone's home screen and tap on the App Store icon.
- After the App Store opens, tap the profile icon in the top right corner of the screen.
- Scroll to the CovidCert NI app and select ‘update’.
- Enter your password and wait for your app to update.
- Go into the CovidCert NI app and click the ‘+ Activate Domestic Certificate’ button.
- Open the Google Play Store app.
- At the top right, tap the profile icon.
- Tap Manage apps and device. Scroll to the CovidCert NI app and select ‘update’.
- Go into the CovidCert NI app and click the ‘+ Activate Domestic Certificate’ button.
If you are still unable to see the certificate in your app, please send a screenshot of the error.
Q. Can I download a PDF version of my domestic certificate?
The domestic certificate is currently unavailable to view on the browser or to download as a PDF. You can only view the domestic certificate on the app.
Q. Can I use my travel or paper certificate for domestic use?
The 2nd QR code in the travel and paper certificates can be scanned at venues however, photographic ID will need to be presented in addition to the QR code at the point of entry.
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