The central component of the reopening of Austria’s economy – along with international travel – over the past few months has been the Covid-19 immunity pass.
Nicknamed the ‘green pass’, the card – which shows immunity to the virus from recovery or vaccination, or that a person doesn’t have the virus through a negative test – allows people to visit hairdressers, restaurants, events and also to travel internationally.
However, several readers report major hurdles with the scheme which have prevented them from getting the green pass entirely.
In late June, The Local Austria released a callout to readers to ask about their experiences getting the card.
Four out of seven told us they had issues obtaining it, with the remainder informing us that the experience was largely positive without any significant issues.
One major issue has been the need for an e-card in order to get the pass.
Almost all medical procedures, whether administrative or therapeutic, require an e-card in Austria.
As The Local has reported previously, people need either an e-card or a social security number in order to get the vaccine in Austria.
While almost everyone in Austria will have an e-card regardless of insurance status, there are some who do not.
This includes people who work for international organisations such as the UN and are privately insured through their work, along with some postgraduate students.
Penny, from Australia, told us she was unable to get the green pass as she “does not have an e-card or Austrian social security number as I have private health insurance with an international organisation”
Olivier Adam, from France, said he was denied proof of vaccination due to not having an e-card.
“With private insurance I was told gesundheit.gv.at cannot issue a QR code. Yesterday I waited one hour in line at VC to get my proof of vaccination to be told only people with the E-card will be able to get the electronic pass” he said.
Foreign phone number
In order to get the green pass, you’ll need a Handysignature – a special code sent to your phone.
The problem with this is that it is only available to Austrian numbers.
With many foreigners choosing to keep their numbers despite living in Austria, this has made it impossible to get a central requirement of the pass.
Sean McIntyre told The Local that despite having an Austrian number, he was unable to get past the Handysignature requirement – and that other options had so far been fruitless.
“I’m currently stuck on the step to get the Handysignature which, to my understanding, is a requirement for the Greencard,” he said.
“I’ve gone to the post office for an identity check, and am now waiting for a letter in the mail to complete the authentication.
“The post office website says it should “arrive in a few days” but now it’s been two weeks. I’m not sure how to follow-up or whom to ask for an update, so I must wait!”
“I cant get my (handy) signature due to having a foreign phone number. I don’t know about alternative ways of getting the certificate”
Ben Bruce, from the United States, told The Local getting the Handysignature was “a burdensome requirement, especially for the elderly and foreigners”.
“There is no easy way to pick it up in person. The process has not been explained well at all by government.”
As of early July, the state government in Vienna indicated the green pass could be obtained without a Handysignature by using its Homecare app, which does not require an Austrian number.
With Vienna’s high proportion of foreigners, this is likely to be good news for many who were unable to get the app.
‘Everything was fine’
While a slight majority told us they experienced issues getting the pass, others indicated they were able to get the pass without any problems.
Vlad, originally from Russia, told us the process worked as advertised.
“Everything was fine,” he said. “I got an SMS from Stadt Wien and easily downloaded the PDF file”.
Two others said the experience was largely positive.