Updated: Nov 15, 2021
As the access to COVID-19 vaccines has expanded worldwide, more and more countries have opened their borders to international tourists.
But since we are still amid a pandemic, international travel inevitably looks a little different now. One new factor to consider is the all-important vaccination record.
Do we need to take our vaccination cards abroad? What about domestic travel? Dubai Route asked some travel experts to share their insights and recommendations on travel and vaccination cards.
Do You Need to Take Your Physical Card Abroad?
"Travelers should take their physical proof of vaccination, such as their vaccination card, with them when travelling outside their country," Victoria Walker, senior travel reporter at The Points Guy, told Dubai Route. "While it's acceptable in some cases to carry a photocopy of your vaccination card on your phone, we are seeing destinations move away from this type of verification and instead use apps or physical cards for proof."
While a handful of countries allow unvaccinated travellers, others require proof of vaccination to avoid quarantine. So it's essential to keep that pesky paper ID card, which is more significant than a roller, handy during your trip.
And even if you are travelling to one of the countries that does not require vaccination, you'll need to show proof of vaccination before flying back to the US - as well as a negative COVID test taken no more than three days before travel (citizens who are not vaccinated must show a negative COVID -19 test taken no more than one day before the trip).
Many countries and airlines have set up an online verification process and require travellers to submit their proof of vaccination before arrival digitally. But with the evolving pandemic situation and countries' changing policies, experts believe it's best to be over-prepared.
"For international travel, there's still a good chance you'll have to present at least a negative COVID -19 test, and that includes vaccinated travellers," Phil Dengler, co-founder of The Vacationer explains. "Since the COVID -19 test is stressful enough for travellers, I recommend that you be well prepared to provide proof of vaccination. Use any digital certificates available, take a picture of your vaccination card with your phone and bring the physical copy with you."
Cheryl Nelson, travel preparation expert and founder of Prepare With Cher, recommends keeping your vaccination card in a sleeve to protect it.
"Do not laminate it, as you could still supplement it with information about booster shots," she says. "Just like your passport, make copies of the front and back of the card and keep a spare copy in your luggage and at home."
What About Domestic Travel?
In Hawaii, for example, travellers - including those from the US - must present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID -19 test before flying to the Aloha State.
" Always check the requirements at your destination before you leave," advises Molly Fergus, vice president and general manager of TripSavvy.
Still, Dengler advises taking your physical vaccination card with you when travelling domestically as a precaution.
"Even though a digital copy or screenshot will suffice in most cases, it's smart to have the physical card with you as another backup," he says. "Your phone could break or malfunction at any time, so the physical vaccination card is essential."
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