What Proof of Covid Vaccination Means

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 surges globally, pandemic travel has become even more unpredictable. To combat the spread of the virus, more countries are implementing travel requirements and safeguards. One such safeguard involves showing proof of the vaccine. As more countries, including the U.S., begin the process of re-opening to fully-vaccinated travelers, you might be wondering how you show proof of vaccination when traveling. Vaccine and travel insurance requirements vary from country to country, which only makes things more confusing for travelers.


From QR codes and vaccine certificates to vaccine passports and records, what do countries really mean they require fully-vaccinated travelers to “show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.” While countries around the world are in various stages of establishing their official proof of vaccination process, here’s what we know right now.  

What are Vaccine Passports?

A vaccine passport describes any documentation that proves a traveler is fully vaccinated. From country to country, it is usually, though not always, an informal term. Your vaccine passport can be anything from the paper record you receive from your healthcare provider to an electronic app showing vaccination details and a QR code containing your digital signature.  


How are QR Codes Used to Show Proof of Vaccination

A QR or Quick Response Code is a scannable code similar to a barcode. The world has become more familiar with them due to the pandemic. To avoid the risk of spreading COVID-19, many restaurants replaced paper menus with QR Codes. Diners view the code through their camera phone and the menu just pops up on their screen.  Similarly, when border officials scan your QR code, they will see the required data they need to confirm your proof of vaccination.


Travel within the EU

Some countries and regions like the EU require digital certificates to meet the ‘proof of vaccination’ requirement.  The EU Digital Covid Certificate informally known as the EU Vaccine Passport, can be either paper or digital depending on preference. Both the electronic and the hard copy version will include a QR Code, which will contain your digital signature and will be scanned for entry into any country in the EU.  The Certificate will be valid for one year. If you’re a resident of an EU member country wishing to travel to another EU member country, you’ll need to show your EU Digital Covid Certificate to prove that you are fully-vaccinated.  


International Travel to the EU

Fully-vaccinated travelers wishing to visit the EU will need to show the EU Digital Covid Certificate. For Americans, the CDC-issued record of vaccination won’t be enough to prove vaccination status. 


Domestic Travel within the US

In the United States, the official Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Record of Vaccination Card is currently the only nationally recognized means of proving you’re fully vaccinated. Other forms of documentation vary by state.  Many states, like California and New York, have their own vaccine passport apps (Digital Covid-19 Vaccine Record and the Excelsior Pass, respectively). Similar to Britain’s move, New York , Las Angeles and San Francisco now require proof of vaccination to enter public establishments like restaurants and theaters.  


In general, though,  Americans traveling from state to state can show proof of vaccination, if required, simply by producing the CDC-issued Record of Vaccination Card. If you’ve lost your card or don’t have a copy, contact your vaccination provider. If you can’t contact your vaccination provider directly, connect with your state health department’s immunization information system.


International Travel to the US

As of November 8, 2021, the U.S. is reopening its borders to fully vaccinated international travelers. You must show proof of vaccination. In most cases, unvaccinated foreign travelers will not be admitted into the U.S.  Minors 17 years old and under are exempt from the vaccination requirement. However, you can expect this to change as vaccines become more widely available to children. Find more guidance on what international travelers can expect.


Domestic Travel in the UK

For UK residents, showing proof of vaccination as you travel means showing an NHS COVID Pass, which will show your vaccination details and your test results if applicable. It can be used to return to the UK or travel within it. 


International Travel to the UK

As long as Americans have received a vaccine regimen from a manufacturer accepted by the UK, Americans traveling to the country can simply show their CDC-issued record of vaccination card or digital equivalent and a valid passport or green card to satisfy the UK’s proof of vaccination requirement. 


The UK now recognizes the EU Digital Covid Certificate as a valid proof of vaccination. This means that any traveler from the EU who has been fully vaccinated should, in theory, be allowed entry into the UK.  


International Travelers to Canada

As of September 2021, Canada has reopened to fully-vaccinated international travelers. You must show proof of vaccination. All international travelers to Canada, including citizens returning to Canada, will be required to download the free ArriveCAN app, which confirms vaccination status for any visitor to the country. Before entering Canada, visitors need to download this app, upload their passport information and COVID-19 vaccination documentation. The app will then issue a receipt that can be presented to border officials as proof of vaccination. 


Proof of Vaccine for Cruise Travel

As we’ve seen recently, cruise ships can be more susceptible to viral outbreaks due to the number of passengers in close proximity for a sustained period of time. Because of this major cruise lines have implemented strict COVID safety protocols. Requiring proof of vaccination may be among these restrictions. 


The websites for cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian clearly spell out exactly what’s required to meet their specific Proof of Vaccination requirement. Cruise-goers should check with their cruise line to verify what documentation they need.


What are Green Passes?

As more countries across North America and EU establish their proof of vaccine verification process at their borders, a number are taking additional safety precautions once travelers officially enter their countries.  In places like New York, France, Italy and Britain, proof of vaccination is or will soon be required to enter public establishments like pubs, theaters and concert venues. Green passes will need to be presented at the doors to all locations that require proof of vaccination. 


What does Proof of Travel Insurance Mean?

As with vaccinations, many countries now require tourists to show proof of travel insurance. Unlike your domestic health insurance, you won’t receive a wallet-size card to present. Instead, when you purchase travel medical insurance, insurance companies will send you a confirmation letter or confirmation document from the insurance company. 


The letter, sometimes referred to as a “visa letter”, will detail your coverage. It will have all the information required to prove to border officials that you do have travel medical insurance for the duration of your stay. These details include policyholders name, policy start and end dates, amount covered for, maximum emergency medical evacuation coverage amount and other information.  



While pandemic travel can be daunting, you can still have an amazing time with the right precautions. For the most up-to-date information on travel restrictions including proof of vaccination requirements, you should contact your destination country to verify that you have the documentation to satisfy every entry requirement. As you travel abroad, you’ll want to safeguard yourself against medical bills for care associated with any new illness or injury, like COVID-19. You can always count on VisitorsCoverage to find the best travel insurance for your needs. 


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