14 Jun 2021

International travel and demonstrating COVID-19 vaccine status

Government guidance on accessing COVID-19 vaccine status for travel International travel and demonstrating COVID-19 vaccine status

Health services across the United Kingdom (UK) have now given over 56 million COVID-19 vaccines with over 20 million people receiving two doses [1]. At the end of March 2021, an estimated 10,400 deaths in the UK had been averted as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination programme [2].

Regardless of the number or type of COVID-19 vaccines received, all travellers should continue to follow any local requirements and always maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene. COVID-19 vaccination may only help to reduce some transmission of the virus to others [3, 4] so it is important that all travellers returning to the UK follow COVID-19 testing and self-isolation requirements.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination does not alter any requirements for entry to the UK. This includes the need for hotel quarantine if returning from a red list country, or isolation at home if returning from an amber list country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend proof of COVID-19 vaccination or immunity for international travel as a condition of entry to a country [5]. However, rather than a condition of entry, some countries have indicated that entry requirements may be eased for travellers who can demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status when travelling abroad.

Each country should indicate what would be accepted as proof of vaccination, although it is likely that COVID-19 testing will still be required, regardless of vaccination status. The Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) details current entry requirements for countries worldwide, including information about self-isolation and necessary COVID-19 testing.

England

From 17 May 2021, United Kingdom (UK) adult residents in England who have received a full COVID-19 vaccine course (currently two doses of any approved vaccine) can access their COVID-19 vaccination status through the NHS website or via the NHS App. Children under the age of 16 cannot get a COVID-19 vaccination status. They may need to show a negative test result instead, depending on travel destination requirements [6].

Travellers who cannot access the internet or do not have a smartphone, and know their planned destination requires COVID-19 vaccination status, can call the NHS helpline on 119 to request a letter be posted to their home address. Alternatively, a letter can be requested through the NHS website. The UK government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure this facility is available to everyone across the UK.

Information can be accessed in a range of alternative formats and translated versions are available [6].

Scotland

If COVID-19 vaccination was received in Scotland, a printed copy of vaccination status can be accessed from NHS Inform Scotland online [sign in required] or by phoning the COVID-19 Status Helpline 0808 196 8565.

Wales

Those who urgently need to travel to a country which requires vaccine certification, and who are not able to either quarantine or provide tests to meet country entry requirements can request a vaccination certificate for essential international travel by calling 03003035667.

Information on a digital option for international travellers for Welsh Citizens will be available shortly.

Northern Ireland

The Department of Health, Northern Ireland is considering options for proof of vaccination given in Northern Ireland. Updates will be available shortly.

The UK government has a step by step guide for travellers explaining all the requirements to help plan safe international travel.

Resources

Imported malaria cases in the United Kingdom in 2019

Public Health England publishes 2019 imported UK malaria cases Read more

Updated guidelines malaria prevention in travellers from the UK: 2021

Public Health England Advisory Committee on Malaria Prevention publish updated malaria guidelines Read more

Polio: public health emergency of international concern

An update on the polio Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) Read more

Yellow fever vaccination recommendation maps

NaTHNaC launches a new portfolio of yellow fever vaccination maps Read more
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