07 Jan 2022

International travel and demonstrating COVID-19 status

Government guidance on how to demonstrate your COVID-19 status for travel International travel and demonstrating COVID-19 status
  • This updates the news item of 20 December 2021

All travellers should continue to follow any local requirements and always maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene, regardless of the number or type of COVID-19 vaccines received or whether they have had COVID-19 infection and now recovered.

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend proof of COVID-19 vaccination as the only pathway or condition permitting international travel [1]. However, some countries do ease entry requirements for travellers who can demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status or previous COVID-19 infection when travelling abroad.

The Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) details current entry requirements for countries worldwide, including information about self-isolation and necessary COVID-19 testing. These requirements can change at short notice. Travellers should subscribe to updates from FCDO for their destination.

For travel to (or returning to) the UK, demonstrating full vaccination status eases the entry requirements from countries which are not on the ‘red list’. Proof of previous COVID-19 infection however, does not alter the entry requirements for England*. The entry requirements may vary for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Travellers should subscribe to updates or check the links regularly to ensure they have up to date information. The red list of countries and territories continues to be reviewed. Countries and territories may be added and travel restrictions may be imposed at any time to protect UK public health [2]. Details on the red list countries and territories and rules for adults and children travelling to England from these locations can be found on GOV.UK. Details on the rules for adults and children travelling to England from countries not on the red list can be found on GOV.UK.

The NHS COVID Pass (or equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland) is available to demonstrate COVID-19 status (test results and vaccination details) for travel abroad. The UK has linked with the EU Gateway, so the NHS COVID-19 pass can now be scanned to allow for inbound and outbound travel, but also for domestic use across the EU and over 20 other countries. This will enable access to venues requiring proof of vaccination e.g. restaurants, theatres and clubs. The Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) details the domestic requirements in each country regarding necessary documentation.

England

To demonstrate COVID-19 status, residents in England, can access their NHS COVID Pass through the NHS website or via the NHS App where any of the following apply:

  • a full course of an approved COVID-19 vaccine is completed in England or with an eligible vaccination overseas.
  • proof of natural immunity* shown by a positive PCR test result for COVID-19, lasting for 180 days after the date of the positive test and following completion of the self-isolation period is available.
  • participated in a clinical trial and were told you received a full course of vaccine (includes the Novavax vaccine trial).
*proof of recent COVID-19 infection does not alter the entry requirements for those travelling to England. Following natural infection, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can remain positive for up to three months, but the average is around 17 days. See details on COVID-19 testing for travel following recent infection in our COVID-19: Testing for international travel factsheet.

Adults and children aged 16 or over can get an NHS COVID Pass for travel. Fully vaccinated children aged 12 to 15 can request an NHS COVID Pass letter for international travel. A person with legal responsibility for a child aged 12 to 15 (such as a parent or guardian) can also request the letter on their behalf [3]. Guidance on the requirements for travel to England with younger children and those 12 to 17 who are not fully vaccinated should be followed [4].

A booster dose of COVID-19 vaccination will show on the NHS COVID Pass within five days. A COVID Pass for travel will show a 2D barcode for the full course of vaccinations and any booster doses [3].

Information can be accessed in a range of alternative formats and translated versions are available, although travellers still need original documentation in English to demonstrate COVID-19 vaccination status for entry to England.

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.

Residents in England who had their COVID-19 vaccines overseas can register their vaccination with the NHS. Details will be recorded on the National Immunisation Management System. Guidance on the registration procedure is available from the Department of Health and Social Care.

See list of approved vaccines and list of countries and territories with approved COVID-19 proof of vaccination for travel to England

Scotland

If COVID-19 vaccination was received in Scotland, the NHS Scotland COVID Status app can be used by those aged 18 years or older to access COVID-19 status for international travel. Alternatively, for those aged 12 years or over, 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

Individuals aged 16 years or older in Wales, who have received a full course of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, can access their NHS COVID Pass through the Welsh Government website. Those who are unable to access the digital NHS COVID Pass, or require a bilingual certificate, can request a paper COVID Pass by calling 0300 3035667.

Travellers can check if their proof of vaccination is valid for travel to Wales on the Welsh Government website.

Northern Ireland

Department of Health, Northern Ireland has introduced an automated method for citizens who have received both their COVID-19 vaccinations in Northern Ireland to apply for COVID vaccination certification. Travellers can check if their proof of vaccination is valid for travel to Northern Ireland on the Northern Ireland Government website.

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

Some people are unable to be vaccinated and can apply for this to be recognised for an NHS COVID Pass.

Each country decides whether those with a medical exemption qualify for relaxed border measures.

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