The Traveler’s Guide to Vaccine Passports

vaccine-passport

With nearly a half-billion people vaccinated against Covid-19, eager jet setters are flooding search engines with questions about travel. Specifically, people are wondering about this “vaccine passport”—two words that spur our dreams of clinking glasses of Negroni next to the Trevi Fountain on a warm Roman evening… and since we built HostelPass to get you there, believe us, we get it. 

We’re still in uncharted territory when it comes to post-vaccine travel, and it’s important we get our bearings before stuffing our bags and strapping on those fanny packs (you know who you are). 

So, in the next few minutes, we’re going to make you an expert on vaccine passports.  

What is a vaccine passport? 

A vaccine “passport” is simply a verifiable record, often a digital or printed QR code, proving one of three things:

  1. That you’ve received a negative Covid-19 PCR test, usually within the previous three days. 
  2. That you’ve contracted and recovered from Covid-19 within the last three months. 
  3. That you’ve been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (Note: as certain vaccines are not approved in certain countries, this definition may vary based on vaccine-type and location). 


At the moment, there is no standardized document that works on all airlines, or even in all countries. Instead, a long list of software companies and even some national governments are working on their own vaccine passports to streamline travel and open up public venues. But more on that later…

(Note: We’ll be using the term “vaccine passport” throughout this article because it’s become the standard, but we still think it’s a little misleading). 

Do I need a vaccine passport to travel?

The short answer is no, you do not need a vaccine passport in order to travel, and the World Health Organization said last month that it does not support making vaccination mandatory for international travel.

But there is, of course, the long answer. 

For the most part, so-called vaccine passports are only being used to speed up airport check-in and processing on arrival. By digitizing your immunization or test records, TSA & border control eliminate the need for a time-consuming document review.

In certain countries, proof of a vaccination or PCR test can also help you avoid testing and quarantine, but this proof does not have to be in the form of a digital vaccine passport. In fact, even if you’re using a vaccine passport, you should always have original documentation in case additional proof is needed. 

Now, you’re probably biting your nails asking… 

Where can I travel this summer? 

Sadly, there’s no straight answer here. 

For example, some European countries including Greece, Albania, Slovenia, Iceland, and Croatia are allowing vaccinated tourists through their borders. However, where you can travel will also depend on your country of origin. For example, Slovenia and Estonia currently don’t accept American travelers, but Iceland, Turkey, and Croatia do

The bottom line?

Travel restrictions are still very wobbly.  

So, when you (hopefully!) begin planning your trip, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and do a little research on the countries you plan to visit. Here are some helpful resources we recommend checking out as you do: 


But let’s say you know exactly where you can travel. 
You’re either fully vaccinated or recently tested negative. 
Your bags are basically packed. 
You’re probably wondering…

Where do I get a vaccine passport? 

Strangely, lots of places. 

Since there’s currently no standard document accepted worldwide, many private, public, and government entities are creating their own. New York state recently instated its “Excelsior Pass”, a type of vaccine passport required to enter certain large public venues like Madison Square Garden and the Times Union Center. 

The EU is attempting to approve its own vaccine passport by the summer. The “Digital Green Certificate” will allow EU residents and non-residents who apply to travel more easily between EU bloc countries and potentially to some outside the EU. Though it’s still unclear how these would be used within each country. 

Israel already issues its own “Green Pass” to those who are fully vaccinated, giving them access to gyms, theatres, and restaurants. 

On top of all this, a litany of software companies are developing their own vaccine passports, including the IATA Travel Pass, Clear’s “Health Pass”, and VeriFLY

You can see a complete list here

So, which vaccine passport should I get? 

As of this writing, which vaccine passport you should get still varies case by case. 

For example, American Airlines and British Airways currently use VeriFLY, while international carriers such as Emirates and Qantas are testing the IATA Travel Pass. 

And if you’re flying from LAX to Honolulu with Delta or United, you have the option to use Clear’s Health Pass to validate your records and avoid a 10-day quarantine. 

The bottom-bottom line?

We’re still in the Wild West of post-vaccine travel. 

So, we recommend always checking in with your airline and the travel commission of your destination country, so you know what to prepare for. 

The triple-bottom line? 

Things are looking up! 
Vaccines are rolling out. 
Governments are striking deals. 

And this hopeful traveler is optimistic he may soon be sipping drinks on the Meditarrean…
…or finally redeeming those super expensive tickets to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
…or just sitting with a friend in a cobblestone plaza. 

Okay…where’s my fanny pack? 


Do you have any questions about vaccine passports we didn’t answer here? We’d love to hear from you.

Share this post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin