WASHINGTON — QUESTION:
Will I be able to travel internationally without a COVID-19 vaccine?
It depends on where you're traveling to, and what the country requires.
- VeriFLY- "Questions about the VeriFLY app"
- IATA Travel Pass- "IATA Travel Pass Q&A"
- IBM Digital Health Pass
- International Air Transport Association spokesperson
- U.S. Department of State spokesperson and website
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- "Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States"
There is a lot of information swirling online about digital passports. American Airlines is using one called VeriFLY and several others, like United and JetBlue, are testing prototypes that could be out in just months.
A viewer texted this question to our Verify researchers: "What do people do who cannot receive the COVID vaccination? Will they not be allowed to fly or go on cruises?"
So let's Verify.
Our researchers looked at four health apps in development: CommonPass, IATA Travel Pass, IBM Digital Health Pass and VeriFLY.
In a nutshell, after you get vaccinated, you can upload vaccination documents or test results to the app. The app will check the requirements of where you’re headed to make sure they match and you’re all set to travel.
On their FAQ page, the International Air Transport Association writes about their IATA Travel Pass.
"Governments decide the requirements to travel; airlines and passengers need to comply," it says. "In normal times there are visa and vaccination requirements in many countries. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic governments have imposed additional restrictions: quarantine measures, testing requirements and eventually vaccination requirements. IATA Travel Pass is a tool for use by governments, travelers, airlines, and test centers/vaccination providers to get verified information to those who need it in a safe and secure manner."
So it’s not the airlines making the rules, it all depends on local governments and their country requirements. Airlines, just like passengers, have to follow those rules.
One resource you can use is the State Department's website. An agency spokesperson told our Verify researchers that they are working in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and say that if you travel, remember, COVID's not over yet.
"The Department continues to strongly recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic," a spokesperson said in part. "We also urge those contemplating travel abroad to review CDC’s country-specific recommendations and their overall guidance on international air travel. U.S. citizens currently abroad should closely monitor guidance from local public health and immigration authorities, as well as the CDC."
Ultimately, check the requirements for where you’re headed.
“Given the situation as it exists today, it’s very difficult to know what to expect when traveling internationally with regard to COVD-19 related requirements," a spokesperson for the International Air Transport Association, an airline trade group, said in part. "Governments are very concerned about recent outbreaks and new strains of the disease. As result, many are discouraging their citizens from traveling abroad except for essential reasons. Furthermore, entry requirements may change quite often and unfortunately, there is little to no coordination among governments on this."
Right now, there are very few countries allowing only vaccinated travelers, but that could change as more people become immunize. Several countries do require a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry, including the United States.
"If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get tested no more than 3 days before you travel by air into the United States (US) and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel)," the CDC writes online.