EXPLAINED: What is Austria's Covid-19 immunity card and how do I get it?
Here's what you need to know about Austria's digital coronavirus immunity card
The digital version of the immunity card, nicknamed ‘green pass’ after a similar idea in Israel, will be introduced in early June.
It will be based on a QR code and can either be printed or carried on your mobile phone or similar device.
In mid-August, Austria made its green pass app available in English as well as German. Here's what you need to know about the pass in English.
Here's what you need to know.
What is the digital immunity card?
The card will allow special privileges for people who have been fully vaccinated, as well as those who have had the virus recently and who have tested negative.
In effect, it is a uniform digitalisation of the existing 3G Rule, which has been in place since May 19th.
While the project has also been in development at a European level, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is one of its major advocates.
But wait, is this green pass the same as the immunity card?
Yes. The Austrian government and the Austrian media have used a number of different terms to describe the pass, including green pass, Covid-19 pass, Covid passport, coronavirus immunity passport and immunity card, among others.
These terms along with a range of others have been used in the international media.
While the cards have two components - both domestic and international - there is in effect one card or pass which will signify your immunity and will allow you to do a range of things including visiting restaurants and travelling.
Digital card to be introduced in early June
Austria's Covid digital green pass using a QR code was implemented in June.
Previously, people could show their immunity through paper documentation.
The green pass will not be compulsory, the Austrian government has confirmed.
Immunised people not included in pass initially
To start with, the pass initially did not include an option for vaccinated people, however this has since changed.
As of July 1st, vaccinated people are included in the framework, along with those who have recovered from the virus and those who have tested negative.
What about for travel?
The Ministry also confirmed the digital green pass will be valid across the EU from July 1st.
This will enable travel in EU countries and will need to be shown at the border.
In addition, it may also allow for certain domestic privileges in other countries in a manner similar to that in Austria.
The Austrian government says it expects the green pass to be valid for international travel "only for the duration of the pandemic", i.e. that it will not become a permanent requirement.
What does it allow you to do?
Austria's Covid-19 health pass, known as the "green pass", is needed to access bars, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, gyms, events and a range of other venues.
For entering nightclubs, you need to be either vaccinated or have received a negative PCR test in the past 72 hours. This information will also be included in your green pass.
As of July 1st, masks are not required anywhere that the green pass is required.
In effect, this means masks are required in public transport, supermarkets and museums, as the green pass is not necessary to enter these areas.
A full official list of where the pass is required - and where it is not - can be found here.
How do I get it?
The first step will be to find a way to show immunity, i.e. through vaccination, recovery or a negative test. In each case, you will be issued with a certificate or some form of paperwork that confirms your immunity.
More information on getting that proof can be found at this link.
Once you have proof of immunity, you can access your green pass using a mobile phone signature or citizen card. These are available at www.gesundheit.gv.at.
You can activate your citizen card or mobile phone signature by visiting FinanzOnline at this link.
Select 'Bürgerkarte/Handy-Signature aktivieren' (activate citizen card/mobile phone signature) and you will receive a letter of approval in the mail in the coming days.
In order to get the Handysignature, you will need to have an Austrian mobile phone number.
In Vienna, the government has set up a way of getting the pass without a Handysignature, which can be viewed at the following link.
The next step is to download the app, from which you can scan your evidence of vaccination, recovery or a negative test.
The Grüner Pass app can be used offline, thereby allowing for it to be scanned when travelling or when data/wifi is not available.
What data is stored in the app?
One concern among readers has been the amount of information which is stored on the app - and whether this is available to those who scan it.
Firstly, all relevant information is stored in the app itself - i.e. it is not stored in a centralised fashion or available on the cloud. This means it cannot be hacked or made widely available.
The app itself stores the person's first and last names, their vaccination status and information about the vaccine they received, along with a QR code which can be used as part of the EU's travel pass system.
What about those checking the app?
In order to make it easier to carry out checks, the Austrian government has set up a website to help bar and restaurant owners.
Known as GreenCheck, it can be downloaded to mobile phones and tablets. All that is needed is that they have a functional camera.
The GreenCheck app can then check people's Grüner Pass apps to see if they are compliant.
The app does not transmit any personal data, or information about the vaccine they had (or whether they are recovered or have tested negative).
In addition, the GreenCheck app can be used offline, making it easier for venue owners to carry out the checks if there is no wifi/data connection.
The app was developed by Austria's Federal Computing Centre (BEZ) under the legal framework established for the green pass.
How do I get an e-card or a social security number in order to get the green pass?
Some readers have reported difficulties getting the green pass without an e-card or a social security number.
Normally, the e-card will be sent to you automatically by your health insurance provider by post.
If you do not already have an e-card or social security number, fortunately these are not difficult to get.
You can apply for an e-card for the purpose of vaccination or to get the Covid-19 green pass at the ELGA website here, provided you have a current photo.
You can also apply in person at the service points of the Austrian Health Insurance Fund (Österreichische Gesundheitskasse), which can be found here.
More information is available here, or by reading our following explainer.