The rules around Covid passports were tightened this week as part of the government’s current ‘plan B’ social restrictions in England to tackle the omicron coronavirus variant.

From Wednesday (15 December) Covid passes are now required in certain settings, such as nightclubs and other large venues.

However, there is still some confusion about how to obtain a Covid pass – and if you can access to one without being fully vaccinated.

Here is all you need to know about the NHS Covid Passport, including how to get one for yourself.

What is a Covid pass?

Covid passes provide proof of vaccination or that you have tested negative for coronavirus in the last 24-48 hours.

If you're 18 or over, you can use your digital NHS COVID Pass for domestic events and venues. People under 18 do not have to show proof of their COVID-19 status for domestic events or venues in England.

When do I need a Covid pass in England?

You may need a Covid passport to enter certain busy and crowded venues, such as nightclubs.

Here is a full list of venues and events that are required to use the NHS COVID Pass (or alternative accepted proofs of COVID-19 status) as a condition of entry:

  • All nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques.
  • Large events, including sporting events, with 10,000 or more attendees.
  • At Indoor events with 500 or more attendees, where attendees are likely to “stand or move around
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees who are likely to stand or move around. 

Which venues do not need to apply Covid-19 checks?

Under 18s to not have to show their COVID-19 status but should be counted towards attendance thresholds.

Exempt venues:

  • museums or art galleries
  • theme parks and fairgrounds
  • other tourist, heritage, or cultural sites (including zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens)
  • recreation and leisure facilities (such as bowling alleys, amusement arcades and bingo halls)
  • sport and physical activity facilities (such as gyms, swimming pools, and skating rinks)
  • play areas or centres
  • casinos
  • cinemas
  • transport hubs and public transport
  • retail, including markets, shops, shopping centres, and supermarkets
  • schools

    Exempt events:
  • communal worship
  • wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and equivalents (including alternative wedding ceremonies)
  • receptions celebrating a wedding or other significant life event (like a christening, bar and bat mitzvah or mehndi ceremony) that are organised by an individual (and not a business, a charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic institution or a public body).
  • funerals and commemorative events (except where commemorative events are held in a nightclub)
  • outdoor events in public spaces where these are unticketed and not charged for (such as markets, street parties, protests and carnivals)
  • events in private houses (including private gardens) where people do not have to pay or hold a ticket to enter

The full list can be found on the government website.


How can I get my NHS Covid pass?

There are two ways you can get an NHS Covid pass.

You can download the NHS app to your phone where you can view, download and email yourself a Covid pass.

If you have never used the service before, you will need to set up an NHS login to see your vaccination status and NHS pass.

Once logged in you should have a scannable QR code which you can show at events and venues.

You can also request a code on the NHS website.

For a non-digital NHS pass, you can call 119 for a copy of the NHS Covid Pass letter.

How long is an NHS Covid pass valid for?

A digital NHS COVID Pass is valid for 30 days. The 30-day period refreshes and starts again each time you log in.

If you use the NHS App for your NHS COVID Pass, it may ask you to confirm your phone number when you log in. If you do not confirm it, your NHS COVID Pass will be valid for only 72 hours.

Do I have to be fully vaccinated to get an NHS pass?

You can also get a pass if you have had a negative NHS PCR test or negative lateral flow test within the past 48 hours.

The NHS COVID Pass is available as soon as you get your result. If you did a rapid lateral flow test at home, you need to report the result first.

If you were part of an official COVID-19 vaccine trial in England or Wales the NHS COVID Pass is now available to you.

Contact your clinical trial site if you cannot get your domestic NHS COVID Pass.

You can also get a pass if you have a confirmed medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination, or vaccination and testing.

The NHS COVID Pass is available once a doctor, clinician or midwife has approved your exemption application.

Do I need a booster jab to get an NHS Covid pass?

Not initially – the current guidelines for Covid passes state that you must have received two vaccines.

However, this could be set to change in the future.

In a statement to parliament, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs: "Once all adults have had a reasonable chance to get their booster jab, we intend to change this exemption to require a booster dose".