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HUS to make it easier to get Covid certificates in English

Many countries now want travellers to prove they don't have coronavirus when they arrive.

Matkustajia jonottamassa koronavirustestiin Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasemalla.
Travellers at Helsinki Airport on 18 December. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Finnish travellers have struggled to get certificates proving their Covid-negative status on time and in the correct language, but now the Helsinki University hospital district (HUS) is looking at ways to improve the system.

Up to now, HUS has not provided an official document unless people ask for it specifically — patients get their test results electronically.

That takes time, which can push the certificate validity out of the 72 hours required by airlines and many countries.

Last week passengers were pulled from a flight to Amsterdam when it became clear their Covid documentation was not good enough for the Dutch authorities. Finnish-language certificates and text messages are not enough to enter the Netherlands.

HUS says it is now looking at automating the system to enable it to provide certificates in other languages.

"Now you get the results in different languages, but there are no templates for the certificates," said HUS head of diagnostics, Lasse Lehtonen, who says English will be one of the first options offered.

Other issues also need to be resolved when providing legal documentation like this.

"The person being tested must be able to prove their identity," said Lehtonen. "Some countries demand a passport number. At the moment, when a person comes for a test, they are asked their name and social security number, but checks aren't as strict as they should be if you're doing this for an official document."

Finnair says that passengers are themselves responsible for obtaining all the correct documents. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs recommends that travellers secure a certificate in English, rather than Finnish.

The ministry also states that travellers should be absolutely certain their journey is necessary, and check the up-to-date advice on entry requirements for their destination before they make the trip.

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