Malta Holiday Misery as Authorities Refuse UK Digital Vaccine Certification
UPDATE - Malta has reversed its policy and said that it WILL now accept the Digital NHS app as proof of vaccination.
Malta, recently added to the UK's green list for travel, has today (30 June) opened its borders to fully vaccinated tourists, but with an extraordinary last-minute update is refusing to accept any form of digital certification – including the NHS app – as proof that visitors are fully vaccinated. It had been previously 'understood' that the NHS app would be accepted as proof.
Unaware of the change to Malta's travel guidance, travellers have been turned away at check-in for not having a paper certificate. The certificates are freely available from the NHS, but can take up to five working days to arrive.
A June 29 update on Malta's official tourism website states: 'Only the paper version of the NHS Covid letter will be accepted as proof of double vaccination to enter Malta. No digital form of the vaccination certificate, not even the downloaded PDF version from the App (including the QR codes generated by the App) will be accepted. Only the barcode on the letter received by post will be accepted.'
Malta had previously expressed its 'delight at being able to welcome fully vaccinated travellers from the UK', with unvaccinated tourists able to visit upon production of a negative PCR test result taken no no more than 72 hours before departure.
Pre-flight PCR tests remain mandatory, but the additional requirement for proof of vaccination will have thrown many holiday plans into turmoil, particularly those with families since children aged between 12 and 17 – who are not being offered the vaccine in the UK – are now effectively banned from visiting Malta. Children 5-11 years of age may visit when accompanied by a fully-vaccinated adult, but are required to provide a negative pre-flight PCR test result. Children under five do not require a test nor a vaccine.
Malta, together with Portugal and the Balearic Islands, became one of the most popular destinations for holiday bookings when UK travel restrictions were lifted earlier in June. The last-minute refusal to accept the NHS app as evidence and impossible requirement for paper vaccine certificates to be produced will no doubt lead to a raft of last-minute cancellations by holidaymakers unable to defer their visit.
Those planning a visit to Malta can request the proof-of-vaccination letter online at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-pass/get-your-covid-pass-letter, or by calling the NHS enquiry line on 119. The website states that it should be received within five working days.