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COVID-19: Australian health minister to change international vaccine passports

COVID-19: Australian health minister to change international vaccine passports

One of the current frustrations for Australians travelling overseas is that our International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate and app are not compatible with European standards.

Anecdotally, you won’t have too many problems when you try to cross a border – International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate generated through MyGov most likely will be recognised, but when you want to enter a cafe, restaurant or other venues in a country that has a vaccine mandate for entry, your Australian COVID-19 Digital Certificate may not be recognised because it works on different technology to the EU Digital COVID Certificates via QR codes on smartphones.

Why?

Australia, Japan and some other countries use ICAO Visible Digital Seal technology. Unfortunately, this system is not compatible with the EU system which uses a different way of encoding the QR code. The issue doesn’t stop there, as some European countries have different requirements, like the recording of vaccine batch numbers on the certificate. Ridiculously, there is no global consensus.

How to get around this problem

There is a go-around, which is to apply for a local digital pass. You can get these with your Australian credentials in Switzerland (even if you are not visiting), France and Italy. Michael Gebicki over at Traveller has written a great article on this back in January 2022.

The solution

This will need to be found at a government to government level, and fortunately, new Health Minister Mark Butler is meeting his G20 equivalents this week to discuss some solutions that will reduce the impediments currently facing travellers as they cross borders or try and get into the Prado, or the Vatican, or Versailles.

Once you have a recognised ‘Green Pass’ on a European-based smartphone app, then it is most likely recognised in other EU countries. Smartraveller has a good article on this, with some details on travel to Europe. You should also check the destination travel advisories on Smartraveller, which also has information related to COVID, although sometime you will need to dig deep within the website to find it.

2PAXfly Takeout

Travel has gotten way more complicated since COVID. You need to spend time seeking advice preferably from a professional travel agent, or diligently do your research using official websites from governments and health authorities. It’s ultimately your responsibility to know the conditions of travel for the destination you are heading to, and not knowing could cost you time, money, embarrassment, or just disrupt your travel plans catastrophically.

Forewarned is forearmed – so expect some minor complications with your certificate once you have passed through an EU border, but be prepared with your European-based app, and EU-based digital certificate.

Oh, and check the terms of your insurance carefully. Clauses about COVID are changing, so make sure you know what happens if you contract COVID overseas, testing and entry requirements, so you know what you are entitled to if you have to isolate, cancel, or change your travel plans.

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