Vaccinated Irish expats residing outside the European Union may be able to obtain an EU digital Covid certificate, Simon Coveney has suggested.
The foreign affairs minister, responding to a parliamentary question raised by Green Party TD Patrick Costello, said the government will "actively consider" issuing the EU Covid-19 vaccine certificate to Irish people who have been vaccinated in countries outside of the EU.
Mr Costello had asked the minister what provisions were being made for Irish citizens who have been vaccinated in Canada and the United States of America.
Mr Coveney said EU regulations provide the option to issue vaccination certificates to persons vaccinated elsewhere, with European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved vaccines, upon receipt of appropriate proof.
“The main development focus, at the moment, is on the delivery of the obligations of the EU Regulation with respect of persons who received a vaccination or a test in Ireland," he said.
However, arrangements for the provision of vaccination certificates to persons not vaccinated in Ireland will be "actively considered" once "the initial roll-out is in place."
Asked about the availability of the EU Digital Covid Certificate to Irish citizens residing in Northern Ireland, Mr Coveney repeated that arrangements for the provision of vaccination certificates to Irish passport holders in other jurisdictions will be considered once the initial roll-out is in place.
The EU digital Covid certificate provides proof that an individual has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has received a negative Covid-19 test result or has recovered from Covid-19 in the last 6 months and is designed to help individuals travel more safely and smoothly within the European Union and European Economic Area.
For those who have recovered from Covid-19, the certificate is available 11 days after a positive test and is valid for no more than 180 days after the positive result.
The certificate is valid in all EU Member States and is provided by the Member State within which the vaccination, Covid-19 test, or recovery took place.
Currently, only vaccines approved by the EMA - Pfizer, Janssen, Moderna, AstraZeneca - are accepted by Ireland, meaning Irish expats who have been vaccinated with other vaccines, such as China's Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines or Russia's Sputnik vaccine, are currently not eligible for the digital certificates.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the Sinovac vaccine for "emergency use" on June 1. The Sinopharm vaccine got the same validation in May. Both Sputnik and Sinovac are currently undergoing a review by the EMA.
Sinopharm is currently approved for use in 59 countries including China, Hungary, the United Arab Emirates, and a number of South American, Asian and African countries.
Sinovac is currently approved for use in 39 countries including China, Hong Kong and a number of African, Asian and South American countries.
Russia's Sputnik vaccine is approved for use in 70 countries including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many African, Asian and South American countries.
Currently, Irish citizens travelling from countries such as Russia, and a number of South American, Asian and African countries have to enter mandatory quarantine upon arrival into the State, even if they are fully vaccinated with one of the aforementioned vaccines.