Do You Have To Show Proof Of Vaccine To Fly?

As COVID vaccination rates increase worldwide, there is more talk of having to show proof of vaccination to fly. Here is a closer look at whether or not you will need to be fully vaccinated on your next commercial flight.

Proof Of Vaccine Is Optional In The United States

Airlines and states do not currently require visitors and returning residents to be fully vaccinated to waive any entry requirements. For now, government agencies and travel providers are encouraging travelers to be fully vaccinated to travel by any transportation method. Proof of vaccination can satisfy the entry requirements for some of the states with stricter travel restrictions

U.S. Destinations That May Require Vaccination

The increasing availability of vaccines and the rapid transmission of the Delta variant is causing many local communities and states to roll back their reopening plans. So far, indoor mask mandates are the prevailing trend regardless of a person’s vaccination status.

Pre-travel diagnostic tests are the most common requirement to waive mandatory quarantine for domestic and international travel. However, showing proof of vaccination can make it easier to get around in several destinations.

New York City

New York City is the first significant United States community to require vaccine proof for certain indoor activities. The “Key to NYC” initiative requires vaccination proof for these indoor activities:

  • Restaurants
  • Concerts and shows
  • Gyms

This mandate goes into effect on September 13, 2021. You can show proof of vaccination in these methods:

  • CDC-issued vaccine card
  • New York State Excelsior Pass
  • NYC COVID Safe app

While you don’t need to be fully vaccinated to board a plane to get into New York City, the mandate discourages the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated from traveling to the city for memorable indoor events.

Hawaii

Anyone flying to Hawaii will need to show proof of a negative COVID test or proof of full vaccination to waive the mandatory quarantine.

Puerto Rico

Travelers will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter the U.S. territory and avoid a non-compliance fine. Like Hawaii, destinations and businesses waive proof of a negative coronavirus test requirement if you can prove you are fully vaccinated.

Full FDA Approval May Require Full Vaccination To Travel

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said on an August 3, 2021, interview, “It’s very difficult for us to come in and mandate a vaccine that isn’t even federally approved yet, the authorization hasn’t been final yet, so stay tuned.” Other airlines and travel brands are taking a similar approach. However, United Airlines recently announced it would require every employee to be fully vaccinated soon.

A vaccine mandate for travel within the United States remains off-limits until the vaccines receive full FDA approval. This approval may arrive as soon as September 2021 as the vaccine companies (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) have their shot reviewed individually. 

International Travel Is More Likely To Require Proof Of Vaccine

A growing number of international travel destinations require full vaccination to enter the country quarantine-free. However, most countries allow visitors to arrive with a qualifying pre-travel test or show proof of vaccination.

While international airlines don’t require passengers to be fully vaccinated, they may not allow you to check in for your flight if you don’t upload the necessary travel documents (if your destination requires proof of vaccination). This indirect mandate prevents confusion. 

Here is a look at some countries that require proof of vaccination to enter for non-essential reasons for vaccine-eligible travelers.

Canada

Canada is finally planning on reopening to the United States for non-essential travel as soon as September 9, 2021. You will need to show proof of vaccination to waive the mandatory quarantine. 

Iceland

Iceland was one of the first European countries to reopen to Americans in early 2021. However, visitors must show proof of vaccination to enter.

France And Italy

Americans can fly to France and Italy, but the entry requirements for the continental European nations are relatively strict. Also, you must show one of these proofs to enter indoor restaurants and tourist activities:

  • Negative COVID-19 test
  • Proof of vaccination 
  • Documentation of a recent COVID-19 recovery

The guidelines for each country have some differences. Overall, the French policies tend to be stricter as you need adequate proof for outdoor dining too.

The European Union is still rolling out a standard set of travel guidelines across the Schengen Zone. Travelers may download a “Green Pass” app to store their travel credentials when visiting multiple EU member nations.

If you’re planning on flying to Europe, you will need to review the entry requirements for your particular destination. Currently, each nation has its unique guidelines, and you may need to upload certain documents before traveling to make it easier to enter.

United Kingdom

Now that Brexit is complete, the United Kingdom guidelines are separate from the European Union guidelines.

Fully vaccinated Americans can currently fly to England and Scotland. However, unvaccinated travelers will need to observe a mandatory self-quarantine. All travelers will need a negative COVID-19 test to enter the U.K. as well, regardless of their vaccination status.

Caribbean Destinations

Several Caribbean countries waive the mandatory quarantine with either a negative pre-arrival test or proof of vaccination. The Bahamas and Belize are two countries with this policy.

Entering The United States After International Travel

All air passengers flying into the United States from an international destination must show proof of a negative pre-travel test or a recent recovery. Fully vaccinated travelers must also show this additional documentation. However, the CDC doesn’t recommend fully vaccinated residents to self-quarantine after completing an international trip.

Currently, the United States doesn’t have a vaccine mandate for non-U.S. residents flying to the country for non-essential travel.

Summary

You don’t have to be fully vaccinated to fly within the United States. States currently accept negative diagnostic tests as an alternative to proof of vaccine. However, many nations require proof of vaccination to waive a mandatory quarantine and participate in certain indoor activities. It’s most likely not worth trying to fly to countries with these restrictions if you’re partially vaccinated or unvaccinated. 

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