British Vaccine Passport Fixed After Glitch Leaves Travellers Panicking

British Vaccine Passport Fixed After Glitch Leaves Travellers Panicking
A person holds a mobile phone displaying the NHS app, used to show a person's vaccination status and COVID Pass on Dec. 2, 2021. (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Owen Evans

A technical issue that left British travellers seething as they could not access their NHS COVID Pass to check into flights has now been fixed.

The NHS COVID Pass is also known as the vaccine passport.

On Thursday, users trying to access proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status via the NHS App and website found that the service was unavailable from 3:50 p.m. onwards on Aug. 18.


The vaccine passport app told travellers that it was “sorry, the NHS COVID Pass is currently unavailable.”

It added that at “this time there is no alternative route for accessing this information via the NHS App or online. If you have already downloaded the information then your access should not be affected.”

In a statement on Twitter, NHS Digital, the national provider of information, data, and IT systems for the British health service, wrote, “We apologise for any issues this may cause and appreciate your patience as we work to resolve it.”

The service resumed working at 10 p.m. after the technical issue was resolved.

The British government has scrapped its NHS COVID Pass for domestic purposes in England in a continuation of its “Living with COVID” strategy. The NHS COVID Pass was the official way to demonstrate COVID-19 vaccination status in England and was used by nightclubs and large events to check people’s vaccination or test status.

However, people still use it to show their vaccination status when travelling.

The European Union made available its COVID-19 passport for all E.U. citizens and residents in July 2021.

Almost all European Union/European Economic Area countries have dropped all of their entry rules and permit restriction-free entry for all travellers.

Only Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Spain still require COVID-19 rules for Brits. The UK has left the E.U. so there are requirements for those from third countries to meet certain entry rules such as proof of vaccination, recovery, or test certificate upon their arrival.


Jon May, 32, told the PA news agency that he was supposed to be flying to Valencia, Spain, from Bristol at 6 a.m. on Friday for a work conference. When he tried to download his proof of vaccination on the NHS App on Thursday he found that it was down.

“I’ve had all three jabs, and I went to the NHS App and it said ‘Service unavailable.’ I was like ‘what do you mean, service unavailable?’ I’ve got a flight at 6 a.m.,” he said.

May said he was nervous he would be detained at the Spanish border.

“I have had all my vaccinations, I just can’t get the certification,” he said. “I might get to Spain and be deported from Spain, and that would be really embarrassing,” he added.

PA Media contributed to this report.
Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.
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