Publication - Advice and guidance

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

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): vaccine certification scheme - information for businesses and event organisers
How to check customers’ vaccine status

How to check customers’ vaccine status

Customers will show their COVID vaccine certificate on a smartphone, tablet or as a printed document.

Businesses and event organisers can:

  • check customer vaccine certificates using the NHS Scotland COVID Check app – you can get more information on how to do this at 'using the app' on the app website, or
  • visually inspect customer vaccine certificates

A negative COVID-19 test result cannot be accepted as an alternative to evidence of vaccination.

Venue operators and event organisers may choose to cross-check the identity of the person displaying their COVID vaccine certificate with other forms of identification (for example, name of person on the ticket with driving licence) which many venues and event organisers already do before allowing entry.

Checking identification will be for the premises to decide as a condition of entry, just as it would be normally.

What venues and event organisers need to do

You should ensure there is a reasonable system for checking and restricting entry to only those who are permitted to be on the premises. You can ask customers for proof they are fully vaccinated or permitted upon entry to the venue or event. You can choose to visually inspect or scan vaccine certificates provided by customers.

NHS Scotland COVID check app

The free NHS Scotland COVID Check app is a secure way to verify an individual's vaccine certificate. You can use the app to scan the 2D barcode (known as QR code) provided by your customer (paper or digital certificates). This will allow you to check that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using a mobile device.

Guidance is available for businesses and event organisers which explains how to download and use the NHS Scotland COVID Check app.

The app does not store or transmit any personal data during the process.

Neither the app for customers or the COVID Check App will require a Wi-Fi connection to be available at the venue or event as it works in offline and online mode, both with our without Wi-FI.

A toolkit has been published for businesses and event organisers which includes examples of evidence.

2D barcodes (QR codes)

COVID vaccine certificates have been produced with a range of embedded security features to help prevent fraud. They include a 2D barcode (also known as a QR code) which provides a unique reference that can be used to verify COVID vaccine certificates.

These QR codes:

  • contain information that is unique to the individual
  • provide additional security to minimise fraud
  • can only be scanned by recognised verifier apps – in Scotland, the COVID Check App is available for free download for businesses and event organisers

QR expiry dates

As part of the security of all certificates, the QR codes have an expiry date which are clearly displayed on vaccine certificates. Once expired, users will have to request a further update to the certificate, either via the app (when it becomes available at the end of September) or paper certificate process. Expiry dates are used as part of the overall security of the system, and to help ensure that information is up to date.

Scottish residents who received one of their COVID vaccinations outwith Scotland

Scottish residents who received one of their first COVID vaccinations outwith Scotland can now upload their official proof of vaccination from that country to their Scottish vaccination record if they have received at least one vaccination dose in Scotland. This will update their record for the purposes of using the app and show they are fully vaccinated if they have received all of their vaccinations. Further information is available in the vaccine certification scheme guidance for customers and on the NHS Inform website

Visitors from outside Scotland

Visitors from the rest of the UK - and the broader Common Travel Area (including Republic of Ireland) - will be able to use their existing Covid Status apps with QR codes (and paper-based certificates) to gain entry to relevant venues in Scotland (using, for example, the NHS App or CovidCert NI).

It is also the desire of the Scottish Government that visitors to Scotland from outwith the UK are able to access events and venues.  There is however significant variation across the globe on what these look like and how they work – and not all are acceptable. 

If you have been vaccinated in an EU member state or Albania, Andorra, Switzerland, Faroe Islands, Israel, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Morocco , Monaco, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vatican you can get proof of vaccination through the European Digital COVID certificate. For the most up to date list of countries who are members of the EU DCC, see EU Digital COVID Certificate | European Commission (

If you have been vaccinated in the US and normally live there, you'll need to take your Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card (CDC card) when you travel and provide proof of your US address

Dealing with exemptions

Some people do not need to show proof of vaccination to be permitted on the premises (also known as ‘exempt’), including:

  • people who are under 18
  • people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons
  • people taking part (or have taken part) in a vaccine trial
  • employees and volunteers working at the venue or event
  • emergency services responders and relevant regulators in the course of their functions

You can accept the following evidence to confirm that someone is exempt from the scheme:

  • proof of age
  • a medical exemption certificate
  • an exemption certificate showing the person was/is part of a clinical trial
  • evidence of employment at the venue or event

Businesses and event organisers should not refuse entry to those who are exempt provided the individual can provide acceptable evidence,

It is reasonable for businesses and event organisers to request proof of exemption as part of the vaccine certification scheme but you should not request any further information about the clinical reason behind the exemption.

Medical exemptions

There are a very small number of people in Scotland who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Reasons include those medical contraindications including severe allergic reaction to the range of vaccines and those receiving end of life care. There are a number of conditions which may render vaccination more difficult to attempt or complete – but it is important to be clear that for all but a very few vaccination offers hugely important protections.

These people will be able to apply for a certificate that shows they are medically exempt from vaccination. The certificate provides proof of exemption allowing the individual named access to the setting.

Clinical trials

All clinical trial participants have received a secure certificate indicating their trial status. The certificate allows the person named on it access to the setting. The certificate contains a barcode which cannot be scanned by businesses but this can be accepted as evidence the individual is exempt.

A toolkit has been published for businesses and event organisers which includes examples of evidence.



First published: 28 Sep 2021 Last updated: 12 Oct 2021 -