COVID-19 vaccine passports: The countries rolling out

Vaccine certificates are being developed around the world for citizens who have received a COVID-19 vaccination.

A Digital Health Pass app, devised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), will be ready "within weeks", developers have said. The technology will enable air passengers to prove their vaccination status before travelling.

For some countries, however, the development of vaccine passports is already underway (though for Australians, the international border closure has been extended to until June, meaning any overseas travel is unlikely in the short term, whether you're vaccinated or not).

Here are the countries with vaccine passports in development. 

Greece – open to vaccinated travellers in May?

Holidaymakers with proof of vaccination will be able to travel to Greece as early as May, under plans currently being discussed in Athens.

Under the fast-tracked scheme, Greece would be breaking from the European Union, which is pushing for a cautious approach to reopening for non-essential travel from outside the bloc.

Greece has already forged a 'vaccine bubble' agreement with Israel and Cyprus, meaning vaccinated people will be able to travel between the countries without the need to quarantine.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has expressed his support for a common vaccination passport to be rolled out across the EU, to help reboot tourism on the Continent. Brussels has been hesitant – with some flagging concerns about discrimination and privacy.

During a meeting in Jerusalem, Mitsotakis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to create a travel corridor. Netanyahu noted it would permit travel "without any limitations, no self-isolation, nothing."

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"I expect what we will be doing with Israel to be a trial run of what we can do with other countries," Mitsotakis said.

It is reported that Cyprus will soon be involved in the travel arrangement with Greece and Israel, commencing on April 1.

Spain and Portugal – 'Vaccine certification is inevitable'

Spain is eyeing a return to tourism in May, aided by vaccine passports. The Balearic Islands' Minister for Tourism, Iago Negueruela, said: "The Balearic Islands has proposed to Spain's central government that the archipelago becomes one of the first places where the vaccine passport is trialled.

"We are gradually reopening the economy, and we hope to kick start the tourism season in May. We are working hard behind the scenes to ensure a safe return to tourism so that we are ready for when British visitors are able to travel once more."

Spain's foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez has joined calls for an EU-wide vaccine certification to ease travel across the continent. This comes after the country controversially announced it would be compiling a database of vaccine refusers, which it would share with the European Union.

"Vaccine certification is something we are going towards inevitably," Gonzalez told RNE radio station. "It will be a very important element to guarantee a safe return to mobility." She said that the document should be coordinated at a European or even global level, and predicted that the certificate could enable people to travel into different countries – as the PCR tests do now.

Neighbouring Portugal's Interior Minister Eduardo Cabrita has said vaccine certificates would be easier to manage than existing COVID requirements. Certificates "should act as proof of security and do away with certain requirements at borders — in particular, the requirement for PCR tests," he said.

Iceland – issuing certificates to its vaccinated population

Last week, Iceland began distributing digital vaccine passes to its fully-dosed citizens. The country had already dropped its quarantine restrictions for arrivals who can prove they have had COVID-19; if you land with an antibody test that is no more than 14 days old, you are free to explore.

"The aim is to facilitate the movement of people between countries so that the individuals can show a vaccination certificate during border checks and be exempt from border restrictions," the ministry said.

Bahrain – an early adopter

Bahrain's BeAware app allows citizens to prove their immunity status two weeks after receiving both doses of the jab.

The green 'COVID-19 Vaccinated' shield is accompanied by an official certificate detailing the user's name, date of birth, nationality and which vaccine they received.

Authorities can verify its validity by scanning a QR code linking to the national vaccine register.

Denmark – 'This is fundamental', working on the rollout

Denmark has announced plans for an imminent digital vaccine certification. "Denmark is still hard hit by the corona pandemic," said Morten Bødskov, Denmark's acting finance minister. "But there are parts of Danish society that need to move forward, and a business community that needs to be able to travel."

"We have more than 800,000 jobs in Denmark that are linked to trading with the world so this is fundamental" he told CNN. "This is fundamental because if we want to start to export again and trading again, see business people meet again, things like the corona passport are fundamental to making that happen," he said.

Sweden – 'Certificates must be recognised around the world'

As with its neighbour, Sweden is planning a digital vaccine passports scheme by the summer. "For certificates to work internationally, they must be recognised by countries around the world," said social minister Lena Hallengren.

The airlines trialling the technology

In partnership with the International Air Transport Association, Emirates is one of the first airlines worldwide to trail the IATA Travel Pass, which comes in the form of a mobile app. The pass will allow passengers to create a digital passport to verify their pre-travel COVID test or vaccination meets the requirements of their destination. IATA is reportedly in talks with the UK Government, too.

Other airlines trialling the app include Qantas, Etihad, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways, and RwandAir is the first African carrier to do so. The full technology will be ready "within weeks", developers have said.

See: What you need to know about the new 'OK to travel' pass airlines are adopting

The countries opening their doors to vaccinated travellers

Seychelles

The Seychelles has announced that vaccinated tourists from any part of the world are welcome – as long as they have received the complete dose, have certification to prove it, and more than two weeks have passed since the final jab. Its own vaccination schedule continues apace.

Cyprus

In December, Cyprus announced a plan to waive testing requirements for arrivals who have been vaccinated, making it the first destination to specify that immunised travellers will not need to meet other COVID-related entry rules. However, the country's ministry of health is yet to confirm if this will go ahead, as planned, in March.

Estonia

Estonia said it will waive mandatory quarantine for travellers who can provide proof of vaccination or who can prove they have recovered from the virus in the previous six months.

Georgia

"Citizens of all countries, travelling by air from any country may enter Georgia if they present the document confirming the full course (two doses) of any COVID-19 vaccination at the border checkpoints of Georgia," said the Georgian Government.

Hungary

Hungary's government said it could require visitors to prove their vaccination status to gain access to the country via an app showing immunity to COVID-19. "The need for citizens to provide proof that they have gained protection against the coronavirus is increasing all over the world," a government spokesperson said.

Romania

The country's National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU) said that people coming from countries or areas of high risk, or who have come into direct contact with someone who's tested positive for COVID, are exempt from quarantine measures if they are fully vaccinated.

The Telegraph, London

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