Frequently Asked Questions about Covid Recovery Certificates
What is a Covid-19 Recovery Certificate?
A ‘Covid-19 Recovery Certificate’, also known as a ‘Covid Recovery Letter’ or ‘Proof of Covid Recovery’, is an official document which can sometimes be used as evidence that you have recently recovered from Covid-19.
Certain countries - including those in the EU - will accept a Covid-19 Recovery Certificate as a way of meeting entry requirements instead of providing proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.
Can I use an NHS Antigen/lateral flow result?
Any test result used to generate a Covid Recovery Certificate needs a sample date, result date, name, date of birth, and a test result shown on an officially registered document.
If you reported/registered your positive Covid-19 Antigen result through the NHS portal you may be able to use this result to generate a certificate for entry to certain countries, but please be aware that most countries require an officially registered positive PCR result.
The NHS COVID Pass also shows proof of prior COVID-19 infection if you have tested positive on an NHS PCR test in the last 180 days.
What types of positive Covid-19 test results are accepted for Proof of Recovery?
The type of test which is accepted for Proof of Recovery will vary depending on your destination. Certain countries may only accept PCR tests, whilst others may accept evidence of Rapid Antigen Test results from an approved provider.
It is your responsibility to confirm your travel requirements and check this information with your destination country and travel provider’s guidelines.
You will usually need one of the following in order for your Recovery Certificate to be generated:
- A positive PCR certificate from a private testing provider showing a positive result with your name, date of birth and date of swab
- A positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT, otherwise known as a Lateral Flow Test) taken by a private provider showing your name, date of birth, and date of test.
- An NHS Notification of a positive Rapid Antigen Test or PCR test result showing your name, date of birth and date of test.
If you received your test result from a private provider, you might also be able to supply the email/text notification stating your positive test in order for the certificate to be generated, if this is permitted by your destination.
Essential here is that most countries (and therefore private providers creating your certificate) specify that you have proof of a ‘recorded’, ‘reported’ or ‘officially registered’ positive test: a photo of your Rapid Antigen Test alone is not sufficient.
Are there specific requirements if I’m travelling to the EU?
Since February 2022, the European Commission has allowed Member States to issue recovery certificates based on both positive PCR Tests and positive high-quality Rapid Antigen Tests carried out from 1 October 2021.
To ensure the accuracy of the result, the rapid antigen test used must be listed in the EU common list of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests and be carried out by health professionals or by skilled testing personnel. This means that Covid Recovery Certificates for travel to the EU cannot be based on any self-tests, including Home Tests.
Which countries accept Covid Recovery Certificates?
Every country has different entry requirements. Make sure you check the travel requirements for your destination country and travel provider. Here are a few examples of popular destination where a Covid-19 Recovery Certificate can be used:
Spain (including the Canary and Balearic Islands) - The Spanish government specifies: "Recovery certificates issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or RAT (Rapid Antigen Test), and up to a maximum of 180 days after the date of sampling, are accepted as valid. The RATs accepted are those authorised by the European Commission and must have been performed by healthcare professionals. Passengers with a Recovery Certificate other than an EU Digital COVID Certificate or equivalent must also provide documentary proof of the diagnostic test from which the Recovery Certificate is derived."
USA - the US currently requires that all travellers are Fully Vaccinated in order to enter. There are very few exceptions to this which include children ages 2-17 (children under 2 are exempt from all requirements) and participants in certain Covid-19 vaccine trails. However, if you are exempt from the vaccination requirement, you must take a COVID-19 viral test 3-5 days after arriving in the United States and/or self-isolate unless you have a Certificate of Recovery proving that you’ve recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
Hong Kong - All travellers to Hong Kong are required to be Fully Vaccinated and to take a Fit-to-Fly PCR test before departure from the UK. However, if you have tested positive for COVID-19 recently and are unable to produce a negative pre-departure PCR test result, you may still enter Hong Kong if you can provide certain additional documentation.
You will need to provide a recovery certificate proving you were infected with COVID-19 between 14 and 90 days before your arrival in Hong Kong, as well as evidence of a negative Rapid Antigen Test taken within 24 hours of your scheduled departure time.
Information is sourced from the UK Government website at the time of listing - always check full requirements including mandatory documentation and quarantine rules before you travel!
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