COVID certificate: standardised, forgery-proof and internationally compatible

Bern, 22.04.2021 - The federal government aims to develop a standardised, forgery-proof and internationally recognised COVID certificate by the summer. Initially, two technical solutions are to be pursued. The final decision on which option is used will be taken in mid-May. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is involving the relevant stakeholders in the work to ensure that the chosen solution is fit for purpose and user-friendly.

The law (COVID-19 Act, Art 6a) stipulates that anyone who has been vaccinated, has recovered from or has recently tested negative should be able to obtain a COVID certificate. The certificate should be issued at the place where the person has been tested or vaccinated. Data on vaccination, recovery and test status will be kept only at this place and by the person concerned. The COVID certificate must be designed so that only decentralised data storage is possible, data protection and security requirements are met, and it is compatible with the EU’s Digital Green Certificate. Additional key criteria are implementation deadlines, fitness for purpose and user-friendliness; the certificate will be issued both on smartphones and on paper.

After consulting with Digital Switzerland, EconomieSuisse, CH++ and the ETH Board, and examining the 50 or so proposals submitted, the FOPH has decided to pursue two technical solutions until mid-May: one solution from the Federal Office of Information Technology and Telecommunications (FOITT), and one from SICPA/ELCA. The SICPA/ELCA solution has the engineering capabilities necessary for further development. The Swiss IT service provider ELCA has joined forces with SICPA to propose CERTUS digital seal technology to produce the Swiss COVID certificate. SICPA, a company in western Switzerland established almost a hundred years ago, is a global leader in the field of material and digital security for public administrations and industry.

All stakeholders involved

On the issuing side, the cantons, the Swiss Medical Association, Pharmasuisse, vaccinating doctors and pharmacies have all been involved in work on the project. In the next few weeks, the organisations that will issue COVID certificates and subsequently have to check them will also be invited to participate.

Until the COVID certificate is available and valid, the proof of vaccination provided by the vaccination centres and proof of a negative test result or of having recovered from the disease will be valid in Switzerland.

The focus will be on ensuring the security of the system and authenticating the bodies that will issue the certificate. Once the technical solutions are ready, they will be tested by internal and external specialists. The certificate must also be personal and forgery-proof. This means additional identification, for example a passport or ID card, will be required when the certificate is presented. To ensure data security, it will only be possible to verify the authenticity and validity of the certificate at the place where it is presented.

Internationally recognised

The COVID certificate will be designed to be used to enter and leave other countries, and to be internationally compatible. With a view to introducing an internationally recognised certificate, the federal government is monitoring the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the Smart Vaccination Certificate and the EU’s Digital Green Certificate. The latter is intended to form a model for national vaccination, test and recovery certificates in each state. Individual states will decide on the situations in which the certificates will be required.

Address for enquiries

Federal Office of Public Health, Communications, +41 58 462 95 05,


Federal Office of Public Health