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Why Do We Need a COVID Vaccine Passport For Travel?

A COVID vaccine passport or ‘vaccine certificate’ will be a requirement for international travel. Since we first wrote about post-vaccine travel in December (when the first vaccinations to COVID-19 were given out), over 70,000,000 vaccinations have been given. This means nearly 40,000,000 people are now fully vaccinated!

However, what does this mean for those of us who want to travel today? What does ‘post-vaccine travel’ look like? And why do we need a COVID vaccine passport or certificate?


Has the vaccine been working?

The outcome of the clinical trials was very encouraging. Both vaccines that have been rolled out still have an efficiency of more than 90%. Despite different variants emerging, both vaccines were approved by strict safety and effectiveness UK regulations. Therefore. we should remain hopeful that cases continue to fall. Other vaccinations have also been produced and combined for even better results since the vaccine rollout in December.


Can we Stop Wearing Masks yet?

All the vaccines have been designed to help our bodies fight the virus as quickly as possible.

covid vaccine passports for passengers

However, they won’t stop us from catching the virus, before becoming infectious to those around us. In short, after being vaccinated we could still pass the virus on.

Therefore, when we become immunised we’re still required to wear a mask and follow social distancing rules – for the time being at least.


Do I need a COVID-19 Vaccine Passport for Travel?

For international travel, we need to show that we’ve been vaccinated and we might need to do so for the foreseeable future. This is because some of us have developed immunity, while others have not.

Some countries have had different approaches to immunisation, which have progressed at different paces. For instance, the EU has been slow to vaccinate its citizen’s but 15 EU countries (including Iceland), are now issuing EU Vaccine passports for travel.

Around the world, each country has a duty to protect its citizens. Although a large percentage of a country might be immunised, their government still needs to be wary of incoming travellers, for concerns of further outbreaks.

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What’s the difference between a vaccine passport and a vaccine card?

After being inoculated we’re presented with a wallet-sized vaccine card to record the following details:

  • Name of vaccination
  • Batch number
  • Date administered.

This also serves as a reminder card, for when our second dose is due. However, Government ministers have always stated that this card is not a ‘vaccine passport’.


What is the COVID Vaccine Passport?

If you’re travelling from England abroad after having the full COVID vaccine, you can use the NHS app at border controls to show you’ve had both doses of the COVID vaccine. For COVID vaccine passports for those travelling from Scotland, you’ll need to request proof of your vaccine status.

The NHS App for COVID has been in action since Monday 17th May. However, Boris Johnson has also said that he wanted to work towards having an international passport system in time for the summer. Either way, holiday destinations that rely on tourism are very keen for vaccine passports to be introduced.


The NHS COVID Vaccine Passport App

To demonstrate your full COVID-19 vaccination status while travelling, entering another country or its territories, you’ll need proof in digital or paper format.

covid vaccine passports for international travel

To view your COVID-19 vaccination status digitally, download the NHS App through your mobile device. Your COVID-19 vaccination status will include a barcode but this is nothing to worry about. There’s no expiry date of your vaccination status.

Any expiry date present refers to the barcode only, which will be updated automatically. After having both doses of the vaccine, the NHS app will automatically create your COVID-19 vaccine passport!

It’s a good idea to download the NHS app and set it up before you book international travel. To be safe, do so at least two weeks before travelling. That way you’ll always have it to view future updates and it will also show proof of COVID-19 test results.

Remember that the NHS App is different from the NHS COVID-19 App. This app is used for contact tracing.

How can I prove my COVID-19 vaccination status abroad if I don’t have a smartphone?

You can obtain documentation in one of two ways:

1: Go through the NHS website, after registering for an NHS login (if you don’t have one already). You can view your vaccination status here, before downloading and printing it off as a PDF.

Also, you might want to print your vaccine status in its paper format and take it with you, as well as the NHS App. This way, you’ll have two versions, giving you more than one way to prove you’ve fully vaccinated if anything happens to each of them.

2: Request a vaccination status letter, which will be posted to the address registered with your GP.

However, only request a vaccination status letter if:

  • You’ve been fully vaccinated by the NHS in England
  • You’re planning to travel within the next four weeks to a country that requires full vaccination status
  • You’re 16 or over

You can request your letter via the NHS website or by calling 119. Just factor in that it’ll take five working days to reach your home address. Plus, it will take five days after you’ve had your second jab for the system to update and show you’re fully vaccinated.


Countries accepting proof of the UK’s COVID vaccine passport

covid vaccine passport app

The European Commission will allow travel if you’ve received the last dose of an EU-approved vaccine. At least two weeks before your departure. The vaccines in the UK qualify.

However, travel will be limited quickly, if new variants arise in non-EU countries. This is being reviewed every two weeks.

Remember that if your chosen destination does not accept proof of vaccination, you’ll need to follow its COVID travel rules. Before departing, check the entry requirements, such as completing a negative pre-departure test.

What countries can you use COVID vaccine passports in?

  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bulgaria
  • China
  • Croatia
  • Ecuador
  • Estonia
  • Georgia
  • Grenda
  • Guatemala
  • Iceland
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Lithuania
  • Maldives
  • Montenegro
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • The Bahamas
  • Tunisia

If you wish to travel to any of these countries but they’re not on the ‘green list’. Or haven’t been listed as safe to travel to by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) we might be able to offer you cover.

Can I travel with children if they don’t have a vaccine passport?

The risk of children catching COVID is extremely low and there are still no plans to vaccinate them so, they should be able to travel with their parents. As long as they can present a negative test. Be mindful that further testing may be required on arrival.


COVID Vaccine Passports and COVID Travel Insurance

Now we know what post-vaccine travel looks like and that COVID vaccine passports for travel are essential, the only thing we need to book is Free Spirit Travel Insurance, to travel with peace of mind.

Free Spirit Travel Insurance includes Coronavirus Cover, which covers you for:

covid vaccine passport for travel

  • Emergency medical and associated expenses
  • Repatriation and cancellation cover if you’re denied boarding after a positive test
  • State hospital benefit

The destinations we venture to after the COVID vaccine may change. We may plan our holidays in advance, or book one at the last minute. However, one thing remains the same.

Free Spirit Travel Insurance believes that everyone has the right to travel. No matter their age, disability, or medical condition, and will continue to give you the confidence to travel. Read our COVID travel guide for more advice.


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