Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): certification scheme - information for businesses and event organisers

How the certification scheme (COVID passport) operates and what venues, businesses and event organisers need to do.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): certification scheme - information for businesses and event organisers


This guidance applies from 6 December 2021.

This guidance explains how the COVID Certification Scheme works. It is for premises and event organisers to help operate a reasonable system for checking that people on their premises are either:

  • fully vaccinated
  • have tested negative for the COVID-19 virus in the last 24 hours
  • are exempt

This guidance applies to late night premises and any relevant events in scope, in Scotland only.

It is based on changes to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 which will come into effect on 6 December 2021.

Businesses and venues covered by the scheme should ensure they have the latest version of COVID check (verifier) app.

If you require information about the scheme as a member of the public, please:

Vaccine certificates or record of a negative COVID-19 test result (LFD or PCR)

 A COVID vaccine certificates or  a record of a recent negative COVID-19 test result (from either a Lateral Flow Device or PCR) is needed to get into the following higher risk settings in Scotland:

  • late night premises with music, which serve alcohol at any time between midnight and 5am and have a designated place for dancing for customers
  • indoor events (unseated) with 500 or more people
  • outdoor events (unseated) with 4,000 or more people
  • any event with 10,000 or more people

Everyone attending these settings and events must show they have been fully vaccinated or have tested negative in the last 24 hours for COVID-19, unless they fall within one of the following exemptions: under 18

  • not able to get the vaccine for medical reasons and not able to take a test (lateral flow or PCR) for medical reasons and have record of this exemption
  • participants in vaccine trials (either current or past participants) and have proof
  • the person responsible for the premises
  • workers or volunteers at the venue or event
  • emergency services responders and regulators carrying out their work

Main points

The mandatory COVID Certification Scheme has been operational for late night premises and certain events since 1 October 2021. From 5am on 6 December, under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 ('the Regulations'), to attend these premises and venues people can show  proof they have tested negative (LFD or PCR) for the COVID-19 virus within the previous 24 hours as an alternative to showing their COVID vaccine certificate. We are encouraging everyone to take regular LFD tests, even when they have a COVID Vaccine Certificate.

In settings where vaccine certification or a record of a recent negative COVID-19 test (LFD or PCR) result  is required, premises and event organisers need to ensure there is a reasonable system for checking and restricting entry to only those who are permitted to be on the premises.

A record of a negative test is a text message or an email from NHS Scotland received after submitting details of  your test, which will be visually checked as it cannot be scanned.

Businesses and event organisers need to have a compliance plan.  This plan should describe the system for checking and restricting entry  or services that will operate for your premises, as well as any other measures that are or will be in place to prevent or minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The free NHS Scotland Covid Check app is for businesses and event organisers to download to a smartphone or other suitable device to verify vaccine certificates. A toolkit has been developed to support checking, which includes examples of the different types of record that should be accepted.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published introductory guidance to help venues look after customers’ personal data while carrying out vaccination status checks.

The scheme will be reviewed at regular intervals in line with the current process for reviewing COVID Regulations every three weeks.

Businesses should not be distributing test kits to prospective customers.  The distribution of test kits is be carefully managed to meet regulatory requirements to be able to recall test kits from users in the event of a performance or safety issue with the tests. Lateral flow tests are designed to be used at room temperature, on a flat, clean, dry surface with the ability of the user to wash their hands thoroughly before use to avoid contaminating the test. Individuals should be encouraged to test before they leave home to reduce the transmission risk.



First published: 28 Sep 2021 Last updated: 3 Dec 2021 -