Vaccine passports are increasingly viewed as the key to unlocking the world after a year of pandemic-induced lockdowns — a few bytes of personal health data, encoded on a chip, that could put an end to suffocating restrictions and restore the freewheeling travel that is a hallmark of the age of globalization.
But they are also stirring complicated political and ethical debates about discrimination, inequality, privacy and fraud. And at a practical level, making them work seamlessly around the globe will be a formidable technical challenge.
The debate may play out differently in tourism- or trade-dependent outposts like Aruba and Singapore, which view passports primarily as a tool to reopen borders, than it will in vast economies like the United States or China, which have starkly divergent views on civil liberties and privacy.
Saudi Arabia announced this week that pilgrims visiting the mosques in Mecca and Medina during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan would have to show proof on a mobile app of being “immunized,” which officials defined as having been fully vaccinated, having gotten a single dose of a vaccine at least 14 days before arrival, or having recovered from Covid.
In neighboring United Arab Emirates, residents can show their vaccination status on a certificate through a government-developed app. So far, the certificate is not yet widely required for anything beyond entering the capital, Abu Dhabi, from abroad.
Few countries have gone farther in experimenting with vaccine passports than the below eight countries. All are tourism- or trade-dependent countries,
They allow tourists who are fully vaccinated to inter the country and go to bars, restaurants, concerts and sporting events.
Countries that are open to vaccinated travelers:
Seychelles, the small Indian Ocean nation is now open to all travelers, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. (One exception: visitors from South Africa are still barred from entry due to the variant.)
The country has no quarantine requirements for visitors, but is requiring a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before arrival. Seychelles also requires visitors to have travel health insurance that would cover the cost of COVID-19 care and isolation if necessary.
Fully vaccinated and previously infected travelers from all countries can once again visit Iceland. Travelers who can show proof of vaccination or previous infection are not required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a flight to Iceland.
Vaccinated travelers are exempt from the quarantine and pre-testing requirements for entry to Iceland, but still need to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival.
Unvaccinated and not previously infected travelers must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from within 72 hours of departure to Iceland, take a test upon arrival, quarantine for five to six days, then take another test that produces a negative result before they can travel freely around the country.
Belize’s borders are now wide open. Travelers to this Caribbean nation, located on the eastern coast of Central America, must bring their official COVID vaccine card showing that they’ve been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks, or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours of arrival (48 hours for a rapid test). Visitors can also take a COVID-19 test after arriving at the airport for $50.
Georgia is now open to fully vaccinated citizens of many countries, so long as they are arriving by air (the country is still barring entry via land or sea). Travelers must fly directly to Georgia from an approved country. Unvaccinated travelers must have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival, and are required to take a follow-up test on their third day in the country. Georgia requires a 12-day quarantine period for all visitors who have traveled through the U.K. within two weeks of arrival.
Fully vaccinated travelers can now visit Ecuador. The country is also open to unvaccinated travelers with a negative COVID-19 test taken up to three days before arrival, as well as travelers previously diagnosed with COVID-19 (so long as a month has passed since they first developed symptoms). Travelers are not required to quarantine after arriving in Ecuador.
To visit the Galápagos Islands, all international travelers must present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours before arrival.
With a few exceptions, Guatemala is open to travelers who became fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to arrival. The Central American country is also open to visitors with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, as well as those who have recovered from the virus within the last three months. The U.S. Embassy warns that anyone who has visited the U.K. or South Africa two weeks before arriving in Guatemala may be refused entry or may be required to quarantine.
Croatia is now open to fully vaccinated travelers, as well as previously infected travelers and those who can show a negative COVID-19 test result from within 48 hours of arrival. Visitors are also permitted to enter Croatia if they take a COVID-19 test immediately upon arrival, then isolate until a negative result comes back; travelers who cannot get a test upon arrival must self-isolate for 10 days.
Travelers coming from an approved list of low-risk countries can enter Croatia without any requirements or restrictions, as long as they do not have symptoms and have not been in close contact with an infected person.
Fully vaccinated travelers from certain countries, including the U.S., are now welcome in Montenegro. In addition to travelers with proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated for at least seven days, the country is also open to visitors with a negative COVID-19 test that’s less than 72 hours old. The country’s borders are open, without restriction, to travelers from low-risk countries (visit the government's site for details).
Source: nytimes.com and cntraveler.com