Foreign travel from the UK resumes from 17 May, and the NHS app is poised to become the de facto 'vaccine passport'. The NHS app, separate from the NHS Covid-19 track and trace app, allows patients to access NHS services, book appointments, manage prescriptions, and view medical records.
On 28 April, UK Travel Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed in an interview with Sky News that work was underway to make the NHS app the official record-keeping app to confirm vaccination statuses and test results.
"I can confirm...it will be the actual NHS app that is used for people when they book appointments with the NHS, and so on" Shapps said, "to be able to show that you've had a vaccine or that you've had testing, and I'm working internationally with partners across the world to makes sure that system can be internationally recognised."
The reality of using the NHS app as a vaccine passport is still some time away. Currently, the app can confirm your vaccination status, but only if that setting is enabled by your GP. You may need to ask your GP to make your vaccination details appear if they don't show currently.
The app will also have to be accepted as the official covid-safe travel document by international authorities too. Whether that will happen by 17 May remains to be seen.
In the meantime, if you want to start preparing, here's what you need to know about getting the NHS app on your phone.
Where can I download the NHS app?
Again, the NHS app is different from the NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app – this app is what you use to scan in when visiting pubs, restaurants, and shops.
Is my phone (or tablet) compatible with the NHS app?
The NHS app is compatible with Android 5.0 and later, so if you bought your phone after 2015 it should be compatible.
Keep in mind, certain Huawei phones won't have access to the NHS app. The Huawei P40 range and Mate 30 phones do not support the Google Play Store and use the Huawei AppGallery instead, which doesn't offer the NHS app.
The NHS app doesn't support Windows Phone either, not that many people still use them.
Apple users will need iOS 9.0 or iPadOS 9.0 or later. This means anyone on an iPhone 5 or newer Apple device can run the NHS app.
The app will also work with all iPad Pro and iPad Air devices, all iPad mini from the 2nd generation (2013/2014 model) and up, and all iPads from the 5th generation (2017) and up.
Where to get a phone that works with the NHS app
If your phone isn't compatible you can buy a new handset without having to spend too much. Here are the best budget handsets around, many of which cost under £200. We're constantly tracking the best phone deals right here as well.
Don't forget, you can also pick up a great refurbished handset far cheaper than buying new.
It's not only an excellent way to save money on some of the most recent phones on the market but also an eco-friendly alternative to buying new.