Apps

Which app will I need for my Covid passport in the UK?

Passport on suitcase
Get your Covid passport sorted! (Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay)

The UK government is pressing ahead with plans for Covid passports that will allow you to take foreign holidays, for example. Your vaccination status will be shown using an app, but you might be confused about which app to use. We’ve got all the answers here, including what you must do to prove your Covid vaccination status.

How do I get the Covid passport app?

The UK government has chosen to use the NHS app for Covid passports.

Note – this is not the same as the NHS Covid-19 app that you probably already installed during the pandemic to “check in” at public venues and log Covid test results.

Instead, you need the main NHS app. You can download the NHS app for Android here or the NHS app for Apple devices here.

The ringed app in the image below is the one you’ll need:

How to use the NHS app for Covid passports

There are many hoops to jump through before the NHS app will show the Covid vaccination status you need to travel. And it’s far from an instant process, so make sure you do this well before you plan to go on holiday.

Your first task is to log in with your NHS services username and password. If you haven’t got one of those, you can register in the app. I recommend you keep your NHS number to hand during this entire process.

Once you’ve logged in/registered, you’ll need to go through another ID verification check before the app will show any confidential health information, such as your Covid vaccination status.

You’ll be asked to choose a form of photographic ID, such as a passport or driving licence. The app will then invite you to take a photo of the ID using your phone’s camera. Make sure you do this in a well lit room. It’s best to put the ID flat on a surface such as a table while you’re doing this to reduce motion blur.

Once you’ve uploaded your ID, the app will ask to scan your face, using the phone’s selfie camera to take a series of images while the screen flashes. (If you’re epileptic or must avoid flashing screens for another health reason, there are alternative means of verification, including taking a video.)

The NHS app clearly doesn’t trust AI to match your ID photo and the photos it takes automatically, as this data is now sent for a manual check. This is where the delay comes in. The app warns this could take up to seven days, although a warning on the app at the time of writing reads: “We’re currently experiencing high volumes. We will process your registration as soon as you can.”

That said, and to my huge surprise, my confirmation came through within an hour of me submitting it.

Nevertheless, if you’re planning a foreign trip this summer, my advice is to get everyone in your family registered on the NHS app right away.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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