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I’m Considering International Travel, will I need Proof of a COVID-19 Vaccination?

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The short answer: maybe. 

As it stands now, governments across the globe have a wide range of policies with respect to allowing outside travelers. For some countries, visitors need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test and/or commit to quarantining for multiple weeks; many others have completely banned entry for all non-citizens, or at least for citizens of countries that have been less successful in their containment of the virus.

As more people get vaccinated, government leaders are still figuring out what they plan to do in terms of requiring proof of vaccination. (It’s worth noting that a “vaccine passport” isn’t actually a new idea: as far back as 1933 international coalitions had started developing what later became the so-called “yellow card,” a booklet endorsed by the World Health Organization to document a traveler’s inoculations.)

At this point, most of the countries that have started to loosen restrictions for vaccinated travelers are in Europe and have generally only done so for visitors from countries in the European Union (EU). For example, Iceland and Poland have both said that they will allow any fully vaccinated EU travelers to visit without needing to quarantine or show a negative test result. (Smaller nations like Georgia and Estonia are opening up to any vaccinated travelers, regardless of where they’re coming from.) As its member countries struggle to revive travel and vaccinate their citizens, the EU is exploring the development of a vaccine passport, though not all of its members are on-board

The WHO has thus far taken the position that national authorities should *not* loosen restrictions on travelers who have been vaccinated, given that “there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission.” They recommend that people who are vaccinated still be required to comply with other travel risk-reduction measures.

Jackie Phillips, MD, February 16, 2021