COVID-19 Vaccine Passports Will Be Important for International Travel

22 January 2022  

Since the rollout of coronavirus vaccines began, countries have reopened their borders for non-essential international travel. With the reopening of international travel, the tourism sector has made a slight recovery from the effects of the pandemic and allowed travelers to resume their canceled plans.

What are COVID-19 Vaccine Passports

COVID-19 vaccine passports are digital or paper-based records used to show that you are vaccinated against COVID-19. Most of these certificates contain a scannable QR code that can be stored digitally.

Paper-based formats mostly show the name and details, such as the place and vaccine you received.  Some might have additional marks to prove authenticity.

Most countries that have vaccine systems allow their citizens to receive a vaccine passport as soon as they are vaccinated. The UK, for example, has the NHS pass, which is linked to your vaccination record. The EU has the EUDCC system, which is available in each EU country.

Proof of Vaccination

Vaccine passports have been significant in proving that a traveler is vaccinated, the type of vaccine they received, and their suitability to travel into another country.

Despite the rise of new COVID-19 variants, vaccine certificates are expected to continue their critical role in international travel. Countries are setting up COVID-19 vaccination certificate systems to help their citizens prove their vaccination status.

Even more important, more countries are recognizing the need for interoperability between various systems. With interoperability in mind, they are developing vaccine passports that are readable and verifiable from different countries.

The most widely recognized system for proving vaccination against COVID is the EU digital COVID Certificate system, which has attracted the attention of many countries in and outside Europe.

Other countries like the US are still firm on not introducing a federal mandate for vaccine passports. However, foreign travelers into the US must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination before boarding a plane to the United States.

The United States also specifies that foreign travelers must be vaccinated with one of the FDA-approved or authorized vaccines. Those vaccinated with vaccines approved by the WHO as emergency use vaccines can also travel to the US.

How to Use Vaccine Passports When Traveling Abroad

Before you travel during the pandemic, the first step is to identify the travel requirements for your destination country. Different countries have different travel requirements.

If not fully vaccinated and you have recently recovered from COVID-19, you can request a vaccination certificate that shows you’ve recently recovered from the virus. The EU, for instance, issues a COVID-19 certificate for those who have recovered from the coronavirus within the previous six months.

Another important factor to check before you leave for another country is the length of time a COVID vaccine is considered effective. For instance, you may need to wait at least 14 days after your first shot to travel.

Depending on where you are traveling to, your vaccine certificate might be unrecognized. Therefore, you want to check whether your destination country has a means for verifying your vaccine passport.

If not, you can identify alternative steps or allowances for unvaccinated persons. These might include a negative PCR test within a certain time pre-departure, or quarantine requirements.

Summary

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines and vaccine passports have provided a sense of hope for resuming activities. As more countries roll out vaccines and introduce vaccine passports, travelers can prove their vaccination status and travel from one country to another.