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Reader question: Which of my personal details do staff see when scanning my Swiss Covid certificate?

Reader question: Which of my personal details do staff see when scanning my Swiss Covid certificate?
A waiter checks a customer's Covid certificate. Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP
The certificate in Switzerland, whether in digital or paper form, contains a QR code, which is scanned by checkers in restaurants, bars, and other indoor venues. What personal information does it reveal?

Since September 13th, staff with tablets checking Covid certificates in indoor venues are a common sight. They are now part of our reality, and will remain so until at least January 24th, 2022.

Some people may be nervous about revealing their personal details to random individuals.

However, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the information on your certificate and also encrypted in the QR code doesn’t divulge anything other than details about your immunity status either after vaccination or recovery, or confirmation of your negative test.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How do visitors get Switzerland’s Covid certificate to access bars, gyms and restaurants?

In its instructions, FOPH outlined these three things that staff must check to ensure the validity on each certificate:

  • Does the certificate contain a valid electronic signature?
  • Has the certificate definitely not been revoked?
  • Does the certificate meet Switzerland’s validity criteria?

The following is what is seen in the QR code.

On the certificate itself, there is your full name and date of birth, along with what kind of vaccine you had, how many doses, the date of the second vaccination, the country where you were inoculated, the validity of the certificate, as well as a code number for your document.

Image by FOPH

Where is your data stored for the COVID certificate? 

Only in your app; no information is stored in a central system, according to FOPH:

 “If you lose your smartphone and the paper printout, you must request another certificate from the place where you were vaccinated or tested”; FOPH said.

Can you be sure your certificate is not misused or forged?

We can only go by what FOPH says:

“The QR code on your certificate contains an electronic signature. The signature is an important security feature and makes the certificate forgery-proof”.

Additionally, when your certificate is checked, you may be required to show a photo ID to prove that you are the legal holder and someone else is not using it in your place.

READ MORE: UPDATED: A step-by-step guide to getting the Swiss Covid certificate


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