As COVID vaccination rates rise worldwide, there is more talk of having to show proof of vaccination to fly. Here’s a closer look at whether you should be fully vaccinated on your next commercial flight.
Vaccine evidence is optional in the United States
Airlines and states do not currently require visitors and returning residents to be fully vaccinated to waive entry requirements. For the time being, public authorities and travel providers are urging travelers to be fully vaccinated to travel using any mode of transportation. Evidence of vaccination may satisfy the entry requirements of some of the states with stricter travel restrictions.
US destinations that may require vaccination
The increasing availability of vaccines and the rapid transfer of the Delta variant are causing many communities and states to roll back their reopening plans. So far, indoor mask mandates are the prevailing trend regardless of a person’s vaccination status.
Pre-travel diagnostic tests are the most common requirement to deviate from mandatory quarantine for domestic and international travel. However, viewing vaccination certificates can make it easier to get around multiple destinations.
New York City
New York City is the first significant U.S. community to require vaccine evidence for certain indoor activities. The “Key to NYC” initiative requires vaccination certificates for these indoor activities:
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- Concerts and shows
- Fitness centre
This mandate enters into force on 13 September 2021. You can show proof of vaccination in the following ways:
- CDC-issued vaccine card
- New York State Excelsior Pass
- NYC COVID Safe app
Although you do not have to be fully vaccinated to board a plane to enter New York City, the mandate discourages the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated from traveling to the city for memorable indoor events.
Anyone flying to Hawaii must show proof of a negative COVID test or proof of full vaccination to waive the mandatory quarantine.
Travelers must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter U.S. territory and avoid non-compliance with fines. Like Hawaii, destinations and businesses waive evidence of a negative coronavirus test requirement if you can prove you are fully vaccinated.
Full FDA approval may require full vaccination to travel
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview on August 3, 2021: “It is very difficult for us to come in and mandate a vaccine that is not even federally approved yet, the authorization has not been final yet, so follow Other airlines and travel brands have a similar approach, however, United Airlines recently announced that it would require every employee to be fully vaccinated soon.
A vaccination mandate for travel within the United States remains prohibited until the vaccines receive full FDA approval. This approval can come as soon as September 2021, when the vaccination companies (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) have their shots reviewed individually.
International travel is more likely to require vaccination proof
An increasing number of international travel destinations require full vaccination to enter the country without quarantine. However, most countries allow visitors to arrive with a qualifying test before the trip or show proof of vaccination.
Although international airlines do not require passengers to be fully vaccinated, they may not allow you to check in on your flight if you do not upload the necessary travel documents (if your destination requires proof of vaccination). This indirect mandate prevents confusion.
Here’s a look at some countries that require proof of vaccination to enter for non-essential reasons for vaccine-eligible travelers.
Canada is finally planning to reopen to the United States for non-essential travel as early as September 9, 2021. You must present proof of vaccination to waive the mandatory quarantine.
Iceland was one of the first European countries to reopen to Americans in early 2021. However, visitors must show proof of vaccination to enter.
France and Italy
Americans can fly to France and Italy, but the entry requirements for the continental European countries are relatively strict. You must also show one of these proofs to get into indoor restaurants and tourist activities:
- Negative COVID-19 test
- Evidence of vaccination
- Documentation of a recent COVID-19 recovery
The guidelines for each country have some differences. Overall, French policies tend to be stricter, as you also need sufficient proof of outdoor dining.
The European Union is still preparing a standard set of travel guides throughout the Schengen area. Travelers can download a “Green Pass” app to store their travel information when visiting multiple EU Member States.
If you are planning to fly to Europe, review the entry requirements for your particular destination. Currently, each nation has its own unique guidelines, and you may need to upload certain documents before you travel to make it easier to enter.
The United Kingdom
Now that Brexit is complete, the UK guidelines are separate from the EU guidelines.
Fully vaccinated Americans can currently fly to England and Scotland. However, unvaccinated travelers must comply with a mandatory self-quarantine. All travelers must also use a negative COVID-19 test to enter the UK, regardless of their vaccination status.
Destinations in the Caribbean
Several Caribbean countries deviate from the mandatory quarantine with either a negative test before arrival or proof of vaccination. The Bahamas and Belize are two countries with this policy.
Entry into the United States after international travel
All air passengers flying to the United States from an international destination must show evidence of a negative test before the trip or a recent recovery. Fully vaccinated travelers must also show this additional documentation. However, the CDC does not recommend fully vaccinated residents for self-quarantine after completing an international trip.
Currently, the United States does not have a vaccination mandate for non-US residents flying to the country for non-essential travel.
You do not have to be fully vaccinated to fly in the United States. States currently accept negative diagnostic tests as an alternative to vaccine evidence. However, many nations require proof of vaccination to waive mandatory quarantine and participate in certain indoor activities. It is probably not worth trying to fly to countries with these restrictions if you are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.
- August Covid Travel Restrictions and Updates
- Updating travel restrictions in the UK
- Is the Delta variant the cause of travel restrictions?