Coronavirus: Covid certification scheme

News article

Covid certification system introduced to some business settings

The Department for Health has introduced a Covid certification scheme in Northern Ireland, intended to reduce the number of infected people in high-risk settings.

The requirement for covid certification checks in selected business settings was introduced on 29 November 2021. Premises covered by the regulations were required to comply from that date. 

The regulations became legally enforceable on Monday, 13 December, and a venue failing to comply with the law from that date can be fined up to £10,000.

The regulations changed on 26 January 2022 to remove many business types from Covid certification requirements.

Where Covid certification will apply

Since 26 January 2022, you have to prove your COVID-19 status for access to:

  • nightclubs
  • indoor unseated or partially seated events with 500 people or more

While it is no longer a legal requirement for other settings, their continued use is strongly encouraged, so you may still be asked to provide proof of your COVID-19 status to enter:

  • licensed hospitality premises, including 'bring your own' alcohol venues
  • cinemas, theatres, conferences and exhibition halls
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees with some or all of the audience not normally seated
  • events where more than 10,000 people will be present regardless of whether they are seated

Types of Covid certification

Unless exempt (see below), if required, you must be able to show your COVID status by one of the following methods:

  • proof you have been fully vaccinated
  • text message or email confirmation from the NHS reporting system of a negative rapid antigen test (commonly known as a lateral flow device (LFD)test), taken either the day or, or the day before entering a relevant place or event
  • valid notification or certification of a positive result of a COVID-19 PCR test taken no earlier than 30 days, and no later than 180 days, before the relevant time
  • confirmation by certification, with a QR code, that you are or were taking part in a clinical trial for vaccination against coronavirus from the organiser of that trial
  • evidence from the Northern Ireland COVID certification process process (a printed certificate with a QR code, or a QR code on the COVIDCert NI app) for medical exemption or an equivalent in your country of residence
  • onsite LFD testing if available, depending on individual premises

This evidence will have to be accompanied by photographic identity. The Covid NI cert app incorporates photo ID.

The regulations will also allow for supervised on-site Lateral Flow testing to be provided by the event organiser or business, prior to entry.

It is an offence to use, make, adapt, supply or offer to supply to another person false or misleading evidence of COVID-19 status.


Events and premises not included in the scheme include:

  • premises at a port or airport
  • the cross-border inter-city rail service between Dublin and Belfast (“the Enterprise”)
  • a place of worship during a service
  • premises of educational establishments other than those parts of the premises where alcohol may be consumed on the premises
  • premises, or parts thereof, being used solely for the purposes of blood donation at the time when they are being so used
  • a funeral, marriage ceremony, civil partnership registration, or a reception or gathering which relates to a funeral, marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration (other than such a reception or gathering held in premises where alcohol may be consumed on the premises)
  • a drive-in event
  • a lawful picket
  • an event on an illuminated trail or pathway
  • communal religious worship at a place of worship or communal activity at a place where beliefs are practiced
  • an event held at an outdoor public place with no fixed entry points and for which neither tickets nor payment are required

The following people related to the business may be exempt from the scheme:

  • a relevant officer
  • an emergency service responder
  • a person employed at or responsible for the relevant premises or relevant event
  • a person providing services at a time when no member of the public is in attendance
  • person carrying out a public service function or essential repairs or maintenance at the premises or relevant event
  • a resident in tourist accommodation, except when that person is in a part of the tourist accommodation to which the public have access and which alcohol may be consumed
  • a person under 18 years of age

How to get a digital Covid certificate

You can apply for a digital Covid certificate on NI Direct.

First published: 29 November 2021