A smart phone with blank screen is in focus, in the background is a brochure, cards and the black and white square of a QR code in a display holder.

QR codes or electronic check-in methods are now mandatory for all hospitality venues and some other businesses in NSW.   We explain what they are, how they work, and what to do if you do not have a mobile phone.

Electronic entry recording for patrons is to help with contact tracing with COVID-19. It is a contactless method of customer record keeping.  For some members of the community, this is a new technology. For some people it is not accessible or inclusive, so we explain about QR codes, how they work, and what to do if you cannot use an electronic method of check-in to a business.


What does QR stand for? 
What is a QR Code? 
How does it work? 
Service NSW App
Video - Covid Safe Check-in
Privacy of QR Check-in 
NSW COVID-19 Safety Plan
What if I do not have a phone?
COVID-19 Check-in card
Mandatory Check-In Businesses
Vaccine Passport Trial

What does QR stand for?

QR stands for Quick Response. So QR code means Quick Response code.

Easy English

COVID-19 You check in From Access Easy English

What is a QR Code?

A Quick Response (QR) code looks like a square with a grid of smaller squares as a pattern inside. Usually black and white.

QR code is a style of bar code in a grid pattern. QR codes contain data or a tracker that points to a website or application. 

How does it work?

A smartphone can "scan" QR codes with the camera function. A QR code reader app can also scan the code. The code will then take the user to a website or application.

They are used as an Electronic "Check-In" and a "Contactless" solution.

There are many other apps and developers who make QR check-in codes. The NSW Government suggest that the Service NSW App will be the most secure way to protect privacy.

Service NSW App

Customers will need to have the Service NSW app on their phone or mobile device to record their visit.

Check-in is seamless by sending correct customer information directly to Service NSW. The business does not need to keep the data,  and it is available to NSW Health to gain access if it becomes necessary. 

Using the QR Code COVID Safe Check-in

  • When a customer arrives at a venue, they hold their phone camera or QR code reader over the code.
  • The smartphone then reads the code, and one of these things will happen:

It will ask the customer to download the Service NSW app

It will take them to the check-in if they already have the app 

It will take you to a webform to type your details

  • A staff member may check the successful sign-in on the customer's phone. Hold out your phone with the screen visible to the staff member. They do not need to handle your phone.

Vaccine Passport Trial

A Vaccine Passport will be trialled through the Service NSW App in Regional NSW. The rial will begin on October 6, and run for 2 weeks. Regional areas participating are yet to be selected. 

"It's going to be a closed pilot for between 100 and 500 people."

NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello 

Video COVID Safe Check-In NSW Government 

Transcript at COVID Safe Check-In.

Privacy of QR Check-in

As of January 1st, hospitality venues and hairdressers must use the COVID Safe check-in with Service NSW from the NSW Government. This means you can use the Service NSW app to check-in and out of venues.

In June 2021 it is expected that this will be extended to other retail venues, after further outbreaks. We await confirmation of details.

Service NSW app

You can check in to COVID Safe businesses who are using their NSW Government QR Code, via the Service NSW app.

If the business is not using the NSW Government QR code, the Service NSW app will not be able to read it. You will need a QR reader app in this instance.

Privacy Concerns have arisen over outsourced COVID-Check in platforms. For example, QR Code developers, offshore providers, or Apps owned by companies that collect data. So if a business is not using the service NSW app to track check-in, before you use the service, consider the risks. Some allow the company to share details with "partners for marketing or promotions". Some are more prone to exploitation from cybercriminals. Some operate under privacy laws that do not adhere to Australia's strict policy.

NSW COVID-19 Safety Plan

The plans provide directions on how businesses and organisations should meet their obligations under Public Health Orders. To operate in relation to COVID-19. 

Some businesses are required to keep a record of all staff, patrons and contractors visiting their premises.

Mandatory registration applies to

  • Gyms
  • Hospitality venues. (Restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, small bars, cellar doors, breweries, distilleries, karaoke bars and casinos) 
  • Funeral homes and crematoria
  • Places of public worship.

Under Public Health Orders, the following businesses must have a member of staff act as a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal:

  • Indoor gyms
  • Food and drink premises
  • Pubs
  • Registered clubs
  • Small bars
  • Micro-breweries, small distilleries holding a drink on-premises authorisation under the Liquor Act 2007 and cellar door premises
  • Casinos

What are the options if do I do if I do not have a phone?

QR Codes will not work without a phone or mobile device, or if there is no internet, wi-fi or mobile data connection. 

Businesses deemed mandatory for electronic check-in are listed here. Businesses may have an online form through a tablet or other device stationed at their entry or point of purchases. Staff can assist you to use, or fill in on your behalf.

For customers without a mobile phone, venues are asked to record their details and time of entry on another device, or you can create a COVID-19 check-in card.

Manual Check-in

Venues must manually collect contact details in instances where electronic forms can not be accessed, including during internet outages. 

NSW Government states that:

"If any customers are unable to use the QR code, businesses should have an alternative check-in method available, such as an SMS service or manual check-in with a staff member."

Businesses should adopt accessible and inclusive practices in actioning Covid-19 check-in standards so that all members of the community are considered.

If you need to check in on public transport but don't have a smartphone, it's recommended you: 

  • have a registered MyWay card
  • ensure you keep good records of the services you have used

COVID-19 check-in card - NSW

The COVID-19 check-in card is a hard-copy (printed) card with a unique QR code that contains your registered contact details.

When you enter a COVID Safe business, a staff member scans your card and your visit to the premises is electronically recorded. If the business device is unable to read your QR code, the staff member will enter your details manually into the online webform.

The card provides an alternative check-in method for customers who don't have smart phones and/or those who are not comfortable using the Service NSW webform.

Once you've created your card you can have it posted to you, or download a printable version immediately.

If you lose the card, or your contact details change, you simply create a new card.

Note: This check-in method is only available at businesses that have a QR compatible device. It is not mandatory for businesses to accept COVID-19 check-in cards.

Create a COVID-19 check-in card

You can receive your card by email or by post.

Privacy Note

  • Businesses that request customers to self-enter their private details must ensure that individuals only access the page or section that shows their own information record. 
  • The collection of personal details must be in a way that protects them from disclosure to other customers.

Mandatory Check-In Businesses

Any businesses that do not record contact details of customers via QR codes or other electronic forms will face strict penalties. 

The new rules will apply to:

  • amusement centres
  • aquariums
  • business premises that are used for auction houses, other than clearing houses
  • business premises that are used for nail salons, beauty salons, hairdressing salons, waxing salons, tanning salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours
  • crematoria
  • drive-in cinemas
  • entertainment facilities
  • hospitality venues, including casinos, food and drink premises, micro-breweries, small distilleries, pubs, small bars and registered clubs
  • function centres
  • funeral homes
  • information and education facilities (other than libraries)
  • party buses
  • properties operated by the National Trust or the Historic Houses Trust
  • public swimming pools
  • recreation facilities (indoor)
  • recreation facilities (major)
  • sex on premises venues
  • sex services premises
  • strip clubs
  • vessels used for hosting functions or for commercial tours
  • zoological parks and reptile parks.

QR codes mandatory in more places in NSW from Monday 12th July.

Use of the Service NSW QR code will be mandatory at all workplaces, schools and retail businesses from Monday, July 12.

Teachers and visitors at schools will need to sign in, but not students.

Locations include: 

•    Retail businesses and supermarkets
•    Individual shops within shopping centres
•    Shopping centres will also be asked to display QR codes at entry points where practicable
•    Gyms
•    Offices, including call centres 
•    Manufacturing and warehousing
•    Universities and TAFE
•    Schools including teaches and visitors (such as parents or contractors) but excluding students 

Businesses can find the application form and more information at register for the NSW Government QR code.

Service NSW have a list of FAQ's available for business, or contact 13 77 88 to check requirements for your business.

The new rules will also apply to events, including:

  • corporate events
  • funerals and memorial services and gathering after funerals and memorial services
  • wedding services and gatherings after wedding services.

Information sourced from

NSW Government COVID Safe Marshal
NSW Government QR Codes
NSW Government Legislation
NSW Government Customer record keeping 
Mandatory Check-in for NSW venues

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