In the future, we will be able to travel again. The striking question is this, “How do people prove their vaccine status?”

Vaccine Passports

It seems likely that there will be a need for specific documentation that will display the traveler’s COVID-19 vaccination or swab test results. Thus, a new term was birthed: The ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Passport.’ 

Currently, government agencies and international airlines are cracking heads to figure out the feasibility of digital COVID-19 vaccine passports for travel. These agencies and companies are attempting to link digital vaccine certificates and documents into one consolidated digital passport. 

It’s no easy feat, though! Before government authorities start rolling out mass amounts of these digital passports worldwide, experts and authorities need to address some issues. 

Let’s dive in and explore what digital COVID-19 vaccine passports are and how they will function in the near future. 

What is a COVID-19 Vaccine Passport? 

The vaccine passport is also known as an immunity passport or vaccine certificate. You might be thinking about that little book you bring along and show to a stern-looking immigration officer when you travel. 

Vaccine Passports

However, what government agencies, airlines, and global companies are looking at is quite different. 

Right now, the most practical idea involves something lying in your pocket–a digital mobile app with a scannable barcode. This powerful app will allow you to prove your vaccination or COVID-19 negative status. [1, 2] Hence, you won’t have to fret about scrambling through a mess of documents at the immigration office. 

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How Will The Vaccine Passport Work? 

This app consists of all the necessary documents in a digital format. It contains your vaccination status, COVID-19 test results, and possibly other information related to your health. 

The most significant emphasis falls on having a convenient, easy-to-use, and secure app. [1, 2] To ensure privacy and security, the data attained from scanning the QR code will not be stored. [3

Vaccine Passports

Despite the massive advancement in technology, not everyone relies on smartphones for everyday use. Hence, there likely needs to be an option to print out paper barcodes or certification to accommodate non-smartphone users. [3

Will I Need a Vaccine Passport? 

You don’t need to own a vaccine passport. However, bear in mind that it will most likely be helpful to possess a vaccine passport in the future. 

The reasoning behind this is straightforward. Government and health authorities require information regarding your COVID-19 test results and vaccination status. This is an essential measure in curbing the spread of the dangerous COVID-19 virus. 

Furthermore, many countries have already established specific requirements. One requirement is proving your negative COVID-19 test status to garner approval for entry. [1

Also, say you dread the thought of being alone in a room with minimal human contact for at least one week. In that case, this vaccine passport may come in handy. It may eradicate the need for quarantine when traveling internationally in the future. [1]

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Is The Vaccine Passport an Entirely New Concept? 

No, it’s not. In fact, this concept has been around for decades. 

Have you heard of the term Yellow Card? The World Health Organization issues this medical passport called the Yellow Card, or Carte Jaun. It serves as official documentation travelers need to have before they can enter certain countries. [4]

This medical passport proves that you have received vaccines against certain diseases, such as cholera, yellow fever, and rubella. [4] On the surface, it might seem like a hassle to get those vaccines before entering certain places. 

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However, there is a higher risk for specific infections if you step foot into particular countries. Hence, the Yellow Card serves as a measure to protect your health while traveling. Getting those vaccinations are effective in lowering your chances of infection significantly while you visit certain countries. 

Are Any Countries Currently Using a Vaccine Passport? 

On the 1st of June 2021, The European Union launched the digital vaccine passport system in seven countries–Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Poland, Greece, and Germany. 

All 27 member states are awaiting a full launch planned for the 1st of July to allow travel within the EU. 

This digital passport is known as a digital green certificate and will display three pieces of information. This includes:-

  • If a person has recovered from a previous COVID-19 infection 
  • Whether a person has completed their full COVID-19 vaccination regimen
  • Whether a person has tested negative for COVID-19 in the past 72 hours 

If a traveler has recovered, gotten vaccinated, or has a negative test result, they will not need to undergo a swab test or quarantine period. [3

Countries such as Israel and Denmark have been utilizing these vaccine passports for more than just travel. They function as entry tickets into theatres, restaurants, concerts, and other sports or entertainment locations. [5

However, as the coronavirus cases dropped to double digits, Israel has scrapped this pass and opened up entry to everyone. 

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What Are The Challenges Associated With Developing The Vaccine Passport? 

The global passport system took a whopping 50 years to create and develop! Now, there’s an urgency to create the digital COVID-19 passport app for worldwide use in less than a year. 

Currently, more and more countries are looking towards opening up their borders. Thus, it’s no surprise that agencies and companies are scrambling to put together a successful app that meets all the requirements. 

Unfortunately, developing a consolidated and secure app takes time despite all the giant leaps in technology we have achieved. The app must not store data and track its users’ locations. Plus, it needs to be recognized globally and requires an immensely high level of privacy as it will be digital. [1]

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To achieve this, global authorities will need to collaborate and agree on a passport that does not discriminate and is accepted globally. 

What Are the Concerns Associated With The Use of Vaccine Passports? 

An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide cannot prove their identity officially. Imagine how tough it is for them to apply for educational opportunities, buy health insurance, or open a bank account without identifying documents. [6

Because of this, there is concern that the digital passport could leave many people behind. The vaccine passport may further widen the gap between the privileged and the less privileged. [1]

Secondly, consider the fact that not everyone can afford a smartphone. There will likely be a paper certificate. However, authorities and experts need to device a well-planned concept to prevent forgery. [1]

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With our current passports, there are many thousands of cases involving fraud. Likewise, you could probably go online right now and find fake copies of vaccination cards costing hundreds of dollars. Due to this, people expect fake vaccination passports to become a significant problem in the future. 

Thirdly, the vaccination doses remain unavailable to multitudes of people. Hence, some reckon that a documentation system proving a negative swab test result should serve the same purpose. The system in place will have to be inclusive and allow health status verification without any ethical dilemma. [5

Bottomline: Digital COVID-19 Vaccination Passports

As news of the COVID-19 vaccination passport continues to spread like wildfire, we can expect this–most people are on the edge of their seat. Many are eagerly awaiting the green light from government authorities to allow international travel once again. 

Even then, we must understand that there are many obstacles surrounding the implementation of these digital passports. 

Plus, let’s not be quick to let our guard down. Even if you have received your vaccinations, as effective as they are, you are not 100% protected from COVID-19. Continue to follow your local authorities’ guidelines and SOPs tightly. We must work together to diminish the spread of this virus. 

As we play our part, we can look forward with hope–One day, we will be able to taste the freedom of much-awaited travel adventures like those pre-covid days! 

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Disclaimer: We provide information based on the sources available at the date of publishing. Some of the information may be outdated or no longer applicable.


  • Jasmine Chiam, B.Pharm

    Jasmine is a Bachelor of Pharmacy graduate from Monash University. She started off as a freelance writer for various medical companies, startups, and wellness organizations in the health and medical field. Now, she manages HealthPlugged’s entire content team. LinkedIn


Jasmine is a Bachelor of Pharmacy graduate from Monash University. She started off as a freelance writer for various medical companies, startups, and wellness organizations in the health and medical field. Now, she manages HealthPlugged’s entire content team. LinkedIn