Covid Vaccine Passports: Everything You Need To Know


Ready to shake off those cobwebs and travel in 2021? As the borders begin to loosen their velvet ropes, there is still a ton of confusion surrounding restrictions, quarantines, spikes, and vaccinations. Here’s what the CDC has presented this week:

Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. However, international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants.

CDC recommends delaying international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

If you are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine:

You should continue to follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely and get tested 3-5 days after travel.

You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.

You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.

Empty Airport

But despite this announcement, misinformation continues to swirl around us. Here’s a quick roundup of truths and myths when it comes to traveling this spring-

You Will Need To Have A Covid Vaccine Passport To Travel

showing off my covid vaccine passport

Covid “Vaccine passports” aren’t a thing, they don’t exist; at least not like those government passport blue ‘books’ you have to spend $110 on and wait an eon to receive. A vaccine passport is more like a concept where you show the vaccination card you got from the place that gave you your shot and it gets you past certain quarantine restrictions like those two-week waiting periods Hawaii had during the winter. It’s not a physical card you would have to pay for.

Furthermore, right now you could hop a plane to Mexico or Costa Rica (although it’s not recommended) without any testing or quarantine required, or proof of vaccination. Dozens of other countries, i.e. Kenya and Aruba, just ask for a recent negative test. (CNN has an up-to-date list here.)

Covid Passport to Beaches

There are a handful of countries—Belize, Ecuador, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Ireland, Montenegro, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Iceland—where proof of vaccination currently allows you to bypass testing or quarantine requirements (though Iceland still requires all visitors to take a free, rapid Covid test upon arrival and quarantine until it shows negative). That list will likely grow, especially for travel to Europe, where officials just announced American travelers will be welcome this summer (exact dates/details still TBD).

But in almost all cases, unvaccinated travelers are still permitted.

London Guards

BTW, free digital apps are coming —Travel Pass and CommonPass are two —that would allow you to store and flash your vaccination record so you didn’t have to worry about losing anything.

No Vaccine Means No Entry

There’s a lot of murmur out there that in order to travel internationally you’ll need proof of vaccination. Not exactly. Not one single destination has announced only vaccinated travelers can enter. What your vaccine does do is ease your entry. Many countries require a recent negative test or proof of recent infection like a positive antibody test in order to gain entry. But if you have been vaccinated, you get to bypass those requirements and step right in. Of course, restrictions vary from country to country and, with the COVID-19 variants, even fully vaccinated travelers need to pay close attention to what’s going on with their particular destination. 

For example, anyone coming into the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated folks, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the US.

You Have to Be Vaccinated to Travel Within the U.S.

Not even close to being true. Hawaii is the only state that currently requires all visitors to show a recent negative COVID test before flying. Without one, travelers must quarantine for 10 days. But Hawaii plans to soon allow vaccinated travelers to bypass that requirement. The other 49 states simply ask that you stay six feet apart and recommend you wear a mask. To find out what states specifically request, sign up for alerts through the CDC or go here.

Hawaiian sunset

A viral TikTok video floated around the web warning Americans that their white cards were no good for travel. They would need a yellow WHO vaccine “passport” to go overseas. Phooey. There is no country in the world that has confirmed this. Your little white CDC card is solid proof of Covid vaccination.
The yellow vaccine passports—International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis— is a legit product and countries like those in Africa have required it for years – but as proof of other vaccines. but zero countries require it for Covid-19.

To Be Fully Vaccinated, It Needs To Have Been At Least Two Weeks Since Your Final Injection

Yep. No getting around this one.



You’ll Need Proof Of Vaccination To Fly

View from Plane window

If your destination doesn’t require a vaccine, neither will the airline you take to get there. That said, if you’re flying to where vaccinated travelers can bypass testing/quarantine requirements, expect the airline to ask you for proof of vaccination before your flight and when you arrive at your destination.

Kids Can’t Get A Covid Vaccine Passport

Currently in the U.S., only those over 16 can get vaccinated. (Pfizer is waiting for FDA approval to vaccinate 12-15 year olds.) If you’re traveling somewhere that lets vaccinated visitors bypass Covid requirements, your kids won’t be able to skip those. The simple solution is to have them Covid tested before departure and upon arrival. Every country that’s adopted covid vaccine passports is allowing in unvaccinated kids with a negative test.

Now that you’re clear on this stuff, on your mark, get set, go! Put those Revenge Travel panties on, along with your mask, and stop wasting away like Miss Havisham.

Author Traveling With Covid vaccine Passport


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