Scottish Government: Updated: certification scheme – information for businesses and event organisers (13 January)

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N.B. Updated definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ for the purposes of the scheme.


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

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

When getting their status checked to attend an event or seek entry to late night premises, most people will be classed as ‘fully vaccinated’ under the scheme if they have had either:

  • a second dose within the last 120 days, but no less than 14 days ago – or
  • a booster vaccination if their second dose was more than 120, but not less than 10 days ago

Separate guidance has been published for the public, customers and event attendees, and there will be an accompanying marketing campaign to help raise awareness.

This is guidance based on changes to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 which will come into effect on 17 January 2022.

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 valid COVID-19 vaccine certificate 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 or otherwise engaged in carrying out a service 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, where those late night premises or events were operational and capable of being open or held, 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.

From 17 January 2022 people showing their COVID-19 vaccine certificate will need to show a record of a COVID-19 booster vaccine if 120 days have passed since their first course of a COVID-19 vaccine was received. The domestic QR code on the Covid Status app has been updated to include this information.

We are encouraging everyone to take regular LFD tests, even when they have a COVID-19 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.

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