COVID-19 vaccination certification

The requirement of vaccine certification is required from 1st October 2021 in hospitality and event settings. On this page you can find an overview of what is expected, however, detailed guidance by Scottish Government.

Compliance plan

All businesses and event organisers need to develop a compliance plan by 18th October 2021. This should describe the system for checking and restricting entry that will operate for your premises and any other measures that are or will be in place to prevent or minimise the risk of COVID-19 being spread. Scottish Government have put together a vaccine certification compliance plan template which we would encourage you to use to develop your individual plans.


Evidenced exemptions:

  • People who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons
  • Under 18s
  • Participants (past or present) in COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • The person responsible for the premises
  • Employees or volunteers working at event or venue
  • Emergency services responders and regulators carrying out their work

You can accept the following evidence to confirm that someone is exempt from the scheme:

  • proof of age
  • a medical exemption certificate
  • an exemption certificate showing the person was or is part of a clinical trial
  • evidence of employment at the venue or event

Businesses and event organisers should not refuse entry to those who are exempt provided the individual can provide acceptable evidence.

Refuse entry to anyone not able to provide a valid COVID-19 vaccine certificate or proof of their exemption.

It is reasonable for businesses and event organisers to request proof of exemption as part of the vaccine certification scheme but you should not request any further information about the clinical reason behind the exemption.

The Scottish Government have published a toolkit which demonstrates how businesses and event organisers can ensure compliance with the requirements. This includes examples of evidence of vaccination and the relevant exemptions. 

Premises with music, alcohol and dancing

The vaccine certification scheme applies to late night premises with music, alcohol and dancing between midnight and 5am.

A premises qualifies as a late night venue for the purpose of the vaccine certification scheme if it meets all of the following conditions:

  • Alcohol is served at any time between midnight and 5am
  • There is a dance floor, or other designated space, for dancing by customers
  • Live or recorded music for dancing is played

Any premises which meets the conditions above will be required to implement the vaccine certification scheme. This includes, for example, nightclubs, pubs, restaurants, hotels, social clubs and adult entertainment venues (this list is not exhaustive) if the premises meets the above conditions.

For nightclubs and similar late night premises, and for smaller events, the expectation would be that a 100% check of every vaccine certificate should, in most cases, be reasonable. However, when the scheme first comes into force and is new to customers and businesses, we recognise that operators may need to take a graduated approach building up to 100% checks over the course of the first 4 weeks of operation. This may mean that, in the first few weeks of the scheme, premises begin by spot checking as many certificates as reasonably practical which should result in a gradual increase in the percentage of checks being conducted.

Events where vaccine certificates are required

The COVID-19 vaccine certification scheme applies to the following events:

  • Indoor events unseated (an event is “unseated” when not all of its attendees are seated): 500 or more
  • Outdoor events unseated (an event is “unseated” when not all of its attendees are seated): 4,000 or more
  • All events: 10,000 or more

The above criteria is met if the event is planned with reference to those numbers (including multi-day events). This means that vaccine certification applies to the duration of the event even if less people attend at any time during the event.

Events not covered by the scheme

Events not included in the scheme include:

  • communal religious worship
  • funerals, marriage ceremonies, civil partnership registrations, or a reception or gathering which relates to a funeral, marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration
  • mass participation events such as a marathon, triathlon or charity walk
  • events designated by the Scottish Ministers as a flagship event according to criteria, and in a list, published by the Scottish Ministers
  • cinema showings
  • drive-in events
  • organised pickets
  • public or street markets
  • illuminated trails
  • work or business conferences (not including any peripheral reception or function outside the core hours of the conference, whether or not alcohol is served)
  • business or trade events which are not open to the public for leisure purposes
  • un-ticketed events held at an outdoor public place with no fixed entry points

Whether vaccine certification is required or not depends on the number of planned attendees and not the capacity of the venue. Venues with a larger total capacity may choose to limit attendance to below the threshold required for certification. If the exact attendance is not known, the requirements apply if it is foreseeable that the planned attendance will be above the specified criteria.

On a day to day basis your premises may not require to participate in the vaccine certification scheme, however, you will need to consider any events which are taking place in your premises which are taking place after midnight or have an expected attendance over the thresholds detailed above. Examples include birthday parties, music nights, discos, bring a party to a party. Should you be holding an event within a licensed premises which is in excess to the events thresholds then the premises will need to ensure that vaccine certificates are checked on entry to the event regardless if the event is taking place after midnight or not.

Should your business require to operate within the scheme, further details of how you can do this can be found on this page. This includes details for the COVID Check app. All hospitality businesses must continue to collect customer details on entry to your premises irrespective of whether within the scheme or not.


Should you have any queries or wish to discuss your operations or proposed event, further please contact
Compliance plans for hospitality businesses should also be emailed across to this inbox prior to 18th October 2021.