A Swiss Covid certificate is essentially an unfalsifiable QR code containing information on your Covid status, which is either vaccinated, infected and recovered or recently tested negative. The QR codes can be presented in paper (PDF) or electronic format via a mobile phone app.
The most obvious use for these Covid certificates is international travel. Many nations are likely to require them in order to enter. However, the federal parliament has not ruled out using them for other things, according to RTS. It is possible that private establishments might request valid Covid certificates for entry to avoid being held responsible for spreading the disease.
On 4 June 2021, Switzerland’s Federal Council adopted an ordinance on Covid-19 certificates, which forms the legal basis for issuing the certificates. On 7 June 2021, the ordinance entered into force.
However, most hoping for a Covid certificate will need to wait a few weeks to get one. Every canton has a different roll out plan and dates.
Eventually, medical practices, vaccination centres, test centres, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies and cantonal administration will issue the QR code based certificates following vaccination or when tests have been processed.
Broadly, most cantons are now in a test phase that will run until late June 2021. During this phase only those with a compelling urgent reason will typically be issued with certificates.
From 30 June 2021 (earlier in some cantons), anyone vaccinated will have an option to get a certificate immediately after vaccination. Those already vaccinated will either need to apply for a certificate online or wait for an email or SMS asking them if they want a certificate. Cantons such as Geneva and Vaud will be sending SMS/email invites. Once the recipient has confirmed they want a certificate they should receive it before the end of June 2021. However, every canton has its own process and it necessary to check. A list of cantonal websites to get started can be found here.
Certificates related to full vaccination are valid for 180 days from the date of the second shot.
For those that have not received two shots of vaccine the process is different. Someone who has been infected and recovered must apply online and will receive a certificate by post. The process takes around 7 days and requires proof of a positive PCR test. These certificates are valid for 180 days from 11 days after the date of the positive test. Rapid antigen tests and antibody tests (serology tests) are not accepted as proof of infection. Those without a valid positive PCR test have the option of getting vaccinated – one dose is sufficient if they have alternative valid evidence of infection no older than 6 months from their date recovery – or by getting a negative test.
People who opt for a test, will get a certificate immediately after testing negative via the Covid app. This will be possible from the end of June 2021. No certificates will be issued for self-tests. PCR test certificates will be valid for 72 hours from when the sample was taken and rapid antigen tests for 24 hours.
Covid certificates can be checked using a verifier app. When the certificate is checked, holders may be asked to present photo identification (e.g. an ID card or passport) to make sure it is their Covid certificate. The verifier app only shows the name and date of birth of the holder and whether the certificate is valid. No data are stored during the checking process.
The Covid certificate is stored only locally in the app on your smartphone. There is no central storage of data. If you lose your smartphone and the paper printout, you must request another certificate from where you were vaccinated or tested.
The Swiss government is aiming to ensure its certificates, which are issued in an official Swiss language and English, are internationally compatible, in particular with the EU digital certificate.