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Updated October 2022
Since the very first vaccines against COVID-19 were approved around late 2020, vaccine certificates have been put in place by bureaucrats, and health experts as a possible way to curb the virus and for easy movement. Several countries worldwide have already released vaccine passports and certificates of their own, enabling greater freedom of movement and entry for vaccinated people.
So what is a vaccine certificate? What are its potential benefits, and is it mandatory to have one? Where and how they are being implemented currently? Here we break down everything you need to know about vaccine certificates.
What is a vaccine certificate?
A COVID-19 vaccine certificate is a document issued by the government that assures the beneficiary of the vaccination, type of COVID-19 vaccine used, and date of vaccine administration. It also is evidence for the citizen to prove to any entities that may require proof of immunisation, especially in case of travel.
What are the benefits of a vaccine certificate?
With many social and public places opening up across the world with regulations and restrictions on unvaccinated citizens, vaccination certificates are bound to become irreplaceable for travel or entry.
Despite the decrease in COVID-19 cases, there are still some countries currently requiring their citizens to have been fully vaccinated prior to embarking on international travels. Additionally, visitors to some of these countries are also required to produce proof of vaccination to enter.
Several countries, such as the ones mentioned below, have made vaccination mandatory for air travel:
- Pakistan– The country’s Civil Aviation Authority has stated that vaccine certificate is mandatory for air travel as part of the authorities’ efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
- United Arab Emirates- UAE Nationals 18 years old and above, they must meet one of the following requirements to travel out of Dubai:
- Must have completed one (1) dose of an approved vaccine and a period of one month has not lapsed from the date of the vaccination and the date of travel; or
- Must have competed two (2) doses of an approved vaccine; or
- If not vaccinated, the passenger must present a valid negative Covid‑19 PCR Test certificate that is issued within 48 hours from the time of sample collection and the time of boarding the aircraft. The COVID‑19 PCR test certificate has to be issued from an approved health service provider and must contain a QR code.
Although all governments adopt no universal consensus regarding the role of COVID vaccination in global travelling, several countries have effectively relaxed entry rules and requirements for fully vaccinated travellers. Countries across the globe have opened their borders for fully vaccinated travellers, even allowing them to bypass quarantine and testing requirements.
When travelling, individuals with vaccine certificates currently benefit from the omission and exemption of quarantine obligations and sometimes even the requirements for on-arrival tests. In the absence of proof of vaccination, you may have to prepare yourself to comply with significantly stricter measures than those able to produce vaccine certificates.
In short, eliminating quarantine or test obligation brought about by procuring a vaccine certificate will better facilitate entry and enhance the quality and the condition of your stay at your travel destination.
Entry into venues
Most countries will likely allow entry to certain public places for only vaccinated individuals.
How are vaccine certificates being implemented in different countries?
Despite the absence of a universally recognised COVID-19 vaccine certificate, several countries worldwide have released authentic vaccine certificates of their own. Let’s take a look at some prominent ones.
The European Union
The EU has approved the deployment of the EU Digital COVID Certificate which would facilitate the safe and free movement of citizens within the EU and eventually allow non-European travellers to safely visit the bloc and the continent. To know more details on how to get the EU COVID pass and its potential benefits, click here.
Fully vaccinated persons with the EU Digital COVID Certificate will be exempted from travel-related testing or quarantine 14 days after having received the last dose of an EMA approved COVID-19 vaccine in most member states of the EU. The same is true for recovered persons with the certificate.
The Indian government had simultaneously started issuing COVID-19 vaccine certificate for both partially and fully vaccinated citizens ever since the beginning of the vaccine rollout. Beneficiaries can download the vaccine certificate from the CoWIN website, Aarogya Setu app, or the Digilocker app. For detailed info on registration and available perks for vaccine certificate holders, click here.
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Health is now issuing vaccine certificates to Kuwaiti residents who have been fully or partially vaccinated. The issuance of the Kuwait vaccine certificate is also done via the government’s Immune app. Read more about getting your vaccine certificate in Kuwait here.
Morocco, marching ahead with its COVID-19 vaccination program than any other African country, has started issuing its very own vaccination certificates. Click here to read more about the vaccine certificate available in Morocco.
The European Commission recognises COVID-19 certificates issued by Morocco as equivalent to those issued by the European Union (EU), opening the way to easier travel for thousands of vaccinated Moroccans.
The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) of Pakistan issues vaccine certificates for Pakistanis who have received either a single-dose or double-dose against COVID-19. To know more about applying for it and the benefits you could enjoy from getting your vaccine certificate, click here.
If you’ve been fully vaccinated in Qatar, your vaccination certificate can be viewed and downloaded at the Ministry of Public Health’s official COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate page. Click here to know all about applying for the certification and relaxations available for vaccinated recipients in the country.
United Arab Emirates
Emiratis can download their vaccine certificates or vaccine cards easily on the Al Hosn app, which will act as UAE’s national COVID vaccine registry. To view more detailed information about the UAE Vaccine card, click here.
What are vaccine passports?
A vaccine passport is an app containing a user’s verifiable vaccination credentials on their mobile devices in order to officially prove that they have indeed been vaccinated. The digital vaccination document may then be utilised to access offices, cinemas, public transport, restaurants, and even foreign countries.
The functions of a vaccine certificate and vaccine passport are very often interoperable and similar to each other.
Which countries are issuing vaccine passports?
Just like the concept of vaccine certificates being adopted by several nations worldwide, vaccine passports have also been proposed and implemented in many countries. Listed below are a few notable countries and their vaccine passports.
France has recently released its very own vaccination passport, known as the Health Pass. The Health Pass contains a user’s verifiable vaccination, test or recovery credentials to show that they have been vaccinated officially. The pass also includes a QR code that will be scanned on entry into the venue or event. Find more about the uses and how to get the France Health Pass here.
Hawaii has just launched its new vaccine passport, called the Hawaii Smart Health Card. Hawaii’s Smart Health Card is a form of digital proof to access businesses and venues with COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Read all about the Hawaiian vaccine passport here.
India has currently not signed off on or launched a digital vaccine passport. Those receiving the first vaccine jabs in India are currently receiving a provisional certificate, and the final certificate is given only after the second dose. Find out the latest developments on the Indian vaccine passport here.
The Saudi vaccine passport takes the form of the Tawakkalna app which was originally conceived to support the government of Saudi Arabia’s efforts in combating the spread of the coronavirus. Click here to find everything you need to know about the Saudi vaccine passport, the different features and benefits available and how to get it.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE had approved a green pass protocol on contact tracing app Alhosn in June this year, easing Covid-19 restrictions for the vaccinated or those with Covid PCR test validity. Click here to know more about the UAE vaccine passport.
The NHS Covid Pass will be utilised as a vaccine passport in the UK. Read more about the UK vaccine passport developments here.