Half-term holidays abroad are set to become easier for UK families as the NHS Covid Pass for travel becomes available to children between 12 and 15.

Starting today, children aged between 12 and 15 now have access to the NHS Covid Pass, which means they can easily record their COVID-19 status for international travel. The pass provides a record of COVID-19 vaccinations received, as well as proof of recovery 180 days after the holder registered a positive NHS PCR test result.

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How children can apply for the NHS Covid Pass

The NHS Covid Pass is available for those who have received their full recommended course of vaccines. It can be accessed on the nhs.uk website for those aged 12 and over, and on the NHS App for those aged 13 and over.

Families can access a paper version by downloading the digital NHS Pass and printing it. Or, they can apply by letter, but bear in mind it can take up to seven days for the pass to be sent out by post.

Anyone applying for the pass needs to register for NHS logins first.

Two teenage girls sitting on bridge holding city map in front of them
The NHS COVID Pass can be used as proof of vaccination when traveling abroad ©Muriel de Seze/Getty Images

Where is the NHS Covid Pass required when traveling?

Requirements vary across destinations but generally the pass should make it easier to cross borders. The NHS Pass is accepted as equivalent in status to the EU digital COVID cert, which means it can be easily scanned at borders and at venues where health passes are required.

It's worth noting that holding an NHS Pass doesn't mean you'll be exempt from additional requirements such as testing when traveling if your destination requires it.

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Visitors enter the gates at Disneyland Paris
The NHS COVID Pass can be used to access venues such as Disneyland Paris when traveling © Getty Images

Can the NHS Pass be used as a health pass?

Yes, and having an NHS Pass is particularly helpful when traveling in Europe because it can be scanned in the same way as the EU digital COVID cert. 

An increasing number of countries are requiring health passes from over-12s. In France, for example, anyone over the age of 12 must show a health pass (or NHS Pass) to dine at restaurants (both indoors and outdoors), to sit in cafe terraces, to visit museums, to climb the Eiffel Tower, to go to Disneyland, to access ski lifts, and to board long-distance public transport. It's almost impossible to do any daily activity in France without a health pass.

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Italy also requires people show proof of vaccination to access most day-to-day services. You can't check into your hotel or sit on a terrace of a trattoria for a plate of pasta without showing your health pass if you are over the age of 12. You'll find similar policies in Greece, Germany and Austria, and in parts of Spain such as Andalucía and Valencia.

In many US cities, health passes are required to access certain venues and while passes aren't generally scanned using QR codes in the US, your NHS Pass will be accepted as proof of vaccination.

Always check the requirements of the destination you are traveling to as rules can change quickly.

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Do children need boosters for a valid NHS Covid Pass?

Not unless your destination requires them and most countries haven't set out that requirement for under-18s yet. Once children become eligible for boosters, that information will be recorded in the NHS Pass within five days of receiving the vaccine.

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