These are the countries using digital health passports

Apr 16, 2021

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We’ve spent a lot of time at TPG over the past few months talking about vaccine passports: what they are, who’s making them and where you may be able to travel with one.

A COVID-19 vaccine could very well be a new requirement for entry to some destinations, and makers of vaccine passports believe they will streamline the travel experience.

Digital health passports are a hot topic of discussion as they are likely to be crucial to the reboot of international travel. But which countries are using (or plan to use) digital vaccine passports? And which countries aren’t? Here’s what you need to know.

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(Photo by Yiu Yu Hoi/Getty Images)

European Union

All eyes are on the European Union’s upcoming Digital Green Certificate, which will allow citizens of EU Member States to move freely around their own country and travel abroad to other countries within the EU.

The Green Certificate will be available for free in digital (with QR code) or paper format. Non-EU Member States, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, will also use the Green Certificate — but not the United Kingdom.

Related: EU unveils Digital Green Certificates proposal for a return to summer travel

Israel

Israel leads every country in the world — except Gibraltar — in vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19. According to a Johns Hopkins University tracker, over 55% of Israelis have been fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated Israelis can access venues such as concerts and restaurants using the country’s Green Pass system. Only Israelis who have been vaccinated can use a Green Pass, but people who have received a second dose can apply for a vaccination certificate, which is an official document.

A certificate of recovery is given to people who have recovered from the virus and is valid until 30 June 2021. Israel is still closed to foreigners until 23 May, and it looks like the Green Pass is only available to Israeli citizens for now. However, the country is also undergoing conversations to establish a vaccine certification for travellers, which would remove the need for a passenger to take a serological test on arrival.

Related: Israel to reopen to fully vaccinated tourists from May 23

Panama

Panama and its national airline, Copa Airlines, are partnering with the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s Travel Pass.

Travellers will be able to create a “digital passport,” IATA said. This will allow passengers to verify that their travel itineraries match the COVID-19 requirements of their destination. The Travel Pass will also include where to find testing and vaccination centres.

Panama is the first country to trial IATA Travel Pass.

Related: Where you can go once you are vaccinated: A country-by-country guide

Singapore

Like Panama, Singapore is partnering with IATA Travel Pass to reopen its economy. Singapore will soon accept pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test results on the app.

Singapore-bound travellers can use the Travel Pass to share their pre-departure COVID-19 test results upon check-in with their airline, starting 1 May, according to IATA. They can also share this information at immigration checkpoints upon arrival at SIN. However, there’s been no word on whether (or when) Singapore will accept COVID-19 vaccine documents from foreigners.

Thailand

Tourism is one of Thailand’s largest gross domestic product drivers (GDP), and preventative measures against COVID-19 resulted in a massive blow to the industry. The country hopes to remedy some of the pandemic’s damage by making it easier for tourists to visit.

Foreign tourists travelling to Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Chiang Mai and Pattaya will be permitted to enter if they have a vaccination certificate and quarantine for seven days in a hotel.

Then, as of 1 July, foreign tourists arriving in Phuket who’ve received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will not be required to quarantine for seven days. Starting 1 October, travellers arriving in the five aforementioned pilot areas will not have to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

Related: Thailand plans to waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers

United States

The U.S. federal government doesn’t seem too keen on wading into the controversy over vaccine passports.

The Biden administration this week threw cold water on the idea of a federal programme for vaccine passports. Both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ acting head and the White House said there would be no federal mandate for vaccine passports in late March.

They also said there were no plans for a vaccine database.

“The government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens. We view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do,” said Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

That means states will essentially decide whether they want to roll out vaccine passports — or not. Florida has said that it would take executive action against vaccine passports, while Hawaii is working on a Safe Travel vaccine passport.

Related: White House won’t require vaccine passports for travel

Bottom line

There are currently several vaccine passports or digital health passport apps in development. While all states or nations may not adopt them, several countries worldwide are at least open to considering using them for their citizens or foreigners. That means travellers might be able to leave their physical vaccine cards at home in favour of a vaccine passport.

Featured photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

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