What To Know About Traveling And Your COVID Vaccine Card

As COVID-19 vaccine access expands worldwide, more countries have opened their borders to international tourists. If our Instagram feeds are any indication, many Americans have taken advantage of the opportunity to travel abroad again. But given that we’re still living in a pandemic, international travel will inevitably look slightly different. 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.”

COVID Vaccine

Although a handful of countries 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 was taken no more than three days before travel ― before boarding your return flight to the U.S. (CUnvaccinated Citizens must show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than one day before the expedition.)

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 also best to have that physical proof. “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 The Vacationer co-founder Phil Dengler. “Additionally, certain restaurants and other venues may require proof of vaccination with a physical card, so you should always carry it.”

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 and require travelers to share their proof of vaccination digitally before their arrival. But with the evolving pandemic and countries’ changing policies, Dengler believes it’s best to be over-prepared.

“When traveling internationally, there is still a great chance you will have to produce at least one negative COVID-19 test, including vaccinated travelers,” he explained. “Since the COVID-19 test is stressful enough for those traveling, I recommend being over-prepared for the proof of vaccination part. Use any available digital certificates, take a picture of your vaccination card on your phone, and bring the physical copy.”

“Always research the requirements in your destination before leaving home.”

– Molly Fergus, vice president and general manager of TripSavvy

Cheryl Nelson, a travel preparedness expert and founder of Prepare With Cher, recommends keeping your card in a sleeve to protect it. “Don’t laminate it as you may still add to it with booster shot information,” she noted. “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?

Hawaii requires travelers ― including American travelers ― to upload proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before flying to the Aloha State. Still, other states have not implemented such a stringent policy. “City and state regulations vary wildly. Always research the requirements in your destination before leaving home,” advised Molly Fergus, vice president and general manager of TripSavvy. “In New York City, for example, proof of vaccination is required to dine indoors, visit museums, attend concerts, or do almost anything indoors,” she added.

“Out-of-state visitors can download the NYC Covid Safe app to store a photo of your I.D. and CDC card. The app is considered sufficient proof of vaccination, and you won’t have to worry about losing your card.” Still, Dengler advises bringing your physical vaccination card when traveling domestically,e. “While a digital copy or a screenshot may suffice in most situations, it is smart to have the physical card on you as another backup,” he said. “Your phone could die or malfunction anytime, which makes the physical vaccination card essential.”

Tyson Houlding
I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for writing, photography, and exploring new places. I started this blog when I was 18 years old to share what I was learning about the world with family and friends. I’ve since grown into a freelance writer, blogger, and photographer with a growing audience. I hope you find inspiration and motivation while reading through my work!