Travel in the Time of Covid

If you have not flown in the past year, you likely are not familiar with new travel requirements. Airlines and some destinations have COVID-related restrictions based on the traveler’s health status. For example, many US states now ask visitors to either provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival or self-quarantine.  This may be the norm for some time to come.

Now that vaccines are available, the process of vaccinating the public will take some time to complete. The conversation has shifted from ‘getting tested’ to ‘proving vaccination.’

Paper-Based Vaccination Records

Travelers proving they’ve had certain vaccinations is not a new concept. Since the middle of the 19th century, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a paper-based International Certificate, commonly called a “yellow card.” Many travelers are required have this ‘health passport’ to, for example, prove they had the yellow fever vaccination before traveling to some parts of South America or Africa.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing a similar paper card for COVID-19 vaccination. When anyone gets a COVID-19 vaccination, they get a white card called a “COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card.” This card contains:

  • the person’s name,
  • date of birth,
  • medical record number,
  • date when the vaccine was given,
  • the manufacturer’s name, and
  • the healthcare professional name or clinic that administered the vaccine. 

Digital Health Passport

The paper-based immunization passport has worked for decades. However, new technology is now available that will provide additional benefits to the traveler: the digital health passport.

The digital health passport will store the traveler’s vaccination information online. This single source will store the data once within that application. Then airlines, border patrols, and maybe other government entities can obtain the verification, without entering the traveler’s health data in their own systems. This protects the privacy and accuracy of the travelers’ personal data.  

Over time, paper-based records of traveler immunizations will be converted to the digital format. This will become the new normal in global travel.

We Can Help

Consult with immigration legal counsel before traveling abroad if you have specific issues or questions and to make sure you have the latest information. Migration Resource Center has the experience and know-how to resolve your immigration issues, whether you’re an individual living in the United States, a business employing foreign nationals, or an individual looking to work and live in the United States. Clients turn to us for assistance with even their most complicated and sensitive immigration matters.

If you have immigration issues or questions, we can help! Please contact us at (646) 609-8805 or use our webform to schedule a free immigration consultation.

By Frederik Stefani, MRC Immigration Attorney & CEO – January 24, 2020