Using your International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate overseas

Will I be exempt from quarantine overseas if I’ve got an International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate?

Your International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate is a secure and trusted means of proving your COVID-19 vaccination history. But whether that history meets local public health requirements is up to authorities in the countries you visit. Some destinations:

  • do not exempt vaccinated travellers from quarantine, or
  • have different policies to Australia about which vaccines they accept and the length of time between doses, or
  • require evidence of a negative COVID-19 test in addition to a vaccination certificate.

It is important to inform yourself about vaccination, testing and quarantine requirements in each destination and transit point. These requirements can change at short notice, so make sure that you keep up to date.

Can I use my International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate as a domestic ‘vaccine passport’ in other countries?

Many countries have eased border entry rules for travellers who can prove they’re fully vaccinated.  For this critical purpose, international vaccination certificates issued by countries around the world, including the International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC), are widely accepted. All you need to do is make sure you meet your destination’s definition of fully vaccinated, as this may differ from Australia’s definition.

So your ICVC will allow you to leave Australia and enter your destination. But beyond the border is where things can get a little more complicated.

Some countries need proof of vaccination as a condition for using services such as public transport. They may also need it for entering restaurants, shops, theatres and other venues. This is often done through ‘vaccine passports’, which are issued by local authorities and linked to local smartphone apps, similar to Australia’s domestic COVID-19 Digital Certificate and state check-in systems.

These systems have generally been designed for local residents, not international travellers. If you’re just visiting a country for a short stay, you may not be able to get a local vaccine passport.  And the local smartphone app might not be able to read the vaccination certificate you brought from Australia.

Australians are not alone in this. Apps used in Europe aren’t configured to read digital certificates from North America, and vice versa. The same applies to most certificates from Asian countries.

Governments around the world are working hard to iron out these issues. Some have already put workable digital solutions in place. But it will be some time yet before we’re moving around overseas countries as smoothly and conveniently as before the pandemic.

Vaccine passports aren’t an issue everywhere. In many countries, it’s enough just to show a printout of an Australian ICVC. In some countries, you only need to prove your vaccination status at large events. And many countries don’t require vaccine passports at all.

But rules can change quickly. It’s important to know the requirements of your destination and keep up to date so you don’t get caught out.

What about in Europe?

European countries have relatively widespread vaccination checks.

The local vaccine passport is the European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate (DCC), also known as a ‘Green Pass’.

EU apps that scan and verify DCCs haven’t been configured to read other certificates. Travellers with vaccination certificates from Australia, the United States, Canada, Japan, China, India, Brazil and other locations can sometimes face difficulties. Australia is working with other countries to encourage the European Commission to address this.

In the meantime, individual European countries are taking steps to minimise inconvenience to travellers. Some will recognise a print-out of an Australian International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC). Others will let you use your ICVC to apply for a local vaccine certificate, which may be recognised in other EU countries. Before travelling to any EU country, make sure to check what it will accept before you leave Australia.

Our embassies continue to advocate to streamline processes further with other governments, wherever travellers face difficulty accessing domestic services and venues. But understanding what the requirements of each country are before you travel there is the best way to avoid unexpected problems.

Rules in any country can change at short notice.  Keep up with the latest at smartraveller.gov.au.

If I have a COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, do I still need to do a PCR test?

That depends on the travel requirements of your destination country. Make sure to check this information before you go on your trip.

How do I use my International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate?

Once you’ve requested the international certificate you can print it, save it, or upload it to a digital wallet or travel app.

You may need to show the certificate to your airline or to border authorities when you enter another country as proof that you have received a COVID-19 vaccination.

As every country or territory decides who can enter or leave through its borders, you’ll need to check your COVID-19 vaccination meets the requirement of the countries you’re visiting.

You should also check your international certificate meets the requirement of the country you’re entering. Some countries will only accept certificates that show your COVID-19 vaccination batch numbers.

If the country you’re visiting needs these details and your certificate is missing it, go to the Services Australia website. For more information on the entry requirements of the destinations you’re visiting see the Smartraveller website.

Do I need to print out my International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate?

The QR code includes all the information authorities need to assess your vaccination status. Some may accept the QR code on its own, but some may not. We recommend that you carry a printout of the PDF version in case you need it.

Does my International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate go into my passport?

Your international certificate and passport are separate documents. To prove that you’re the rightful holder, you’ll generally need to show both of these documents together.

How do I care for my International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate?

Your international certificate displays sensitive personal information. You should protect it from loss, theft and compromise with the same care as your passport.

If you print out your international certificate, you should protect the QR code from marks or damage that may make it hard for authorities to read, such as heavy folds over the QR code.

What if I lose my International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate?

We recommend that you travel with a spare copy of your international certificate and leave a copy with a family member or trusted friend, in case it is lost or damaged on your journey.

If you lose your international certificate, and you don’t have a spare copy, you can get a new one for free through myGov or by contacting Services Australia.

Tip: Follow the instructions on the myGov website to ensure that you still have access to your myGov account while travelling overseas.

Do I need to show my International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate at the Australian border?

Information about how to use your certificate when leaving or entering Australia is available from the Department of Home Affairs.

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