As COVID-19 vaccine access expands worldwide, more countries have been opening their borders to international tourists. If our Instagram feeds are any indication, many Americans have been taking advantage of the opportunity to travel abroad again.
But given that we’re still very much living in a pandemic, international travel is inevitably going to look a little different right now. One new factor to consider is the all-important vaccination card.
Do we need to bring our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards abroad? What about domestic trips? HuffPost asked a few travel experts to share their insights and recommendations regarding travel and vaccine cards.
Do you need to bring the physical card abroad?
“Travelers should bring their physical proof of vaccination, like your CDC card, when traveling outside of the U.S.,” Victoria Walker, a senior travel reporter at The Points Guy, told HuffPost. “While carrying a photocopy of your vaccination proof on your phone is acceptable in some instances, we’re seeing destinations move away from this kind of verification to using apps or physical cards to demonstrate proof.”
Although there are a handful of countries that allow foreign travelers who have not been vaccinated, others require proof of vaccination to avoid quarantine, so it’s essential to have that annoyingly larger-than-wallet-sized paper card readily available during your journey.
And even if you travel to one of those countries that don’t require visitors to be vaccinated, you’ll still need to present proof of vaccination ― as well as a negative COVID test taken no more than three days before travel ― before boarding your return flight to the U.S. (Citizens who are unvaccinated must show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than one day before the trip.) Many destinations have digital vaccine verification processes that travelers must complete before departing.
In many of these instances, photos of your card or digital vaccination verification might be accepted, but it’s best to have that physical proof as well.
“In the unlikely event your phone dies or malfunctions, the physical vaccination card will prevent you from delays to your trip or a quarantine,” said Phil Dengler, co-founder of The Vacationer. “Additionally, certain restaurants and other venues may require proof of vaccination with a physical card, so you should carry it at all times.”
What else do you have to do with it?
“It is important to read all requirements before traveling to a foreign country,” Dengler said, adding that he will be traveling next month to St. Lucia, where visitors are asked to carry their physical vaccination cards. “Some also ask you to upload a copy of your vaccination card to a portal before departing.”
Indeed, many countries and airlines have an online verification process in place and require travelers to share their proof of vaccination digitally ahead of their arrival. But with the evolving pandemic situation and countries’ changing policies, Dengler believes it’s best to be over-prepared.