Travel Pass or Travel Passport?

Asia, Europe and the Caribbean are all testing them. IATA, the trade association for the world’s airlines, is releasing a Travel Pass app later this month. The EU is creating a digital and printed ‘certificate’ and the new rules in California require proof of immunization or testing for large events. Whew…that’s a lot of apps, certificates and passes all wrapped into one paragraph!

Anyway, let’s be clear that the new protocols rolling out around the country, and the world, are not official ‘passports’ – think of all these as just ‘credentials’. What’s really happening is a variety of efforts to verify who’s vaccinated for Covid 19 and who isn’t. Yet, there’s still a lot of discussion about what’s ethical, legal and even logistically feasible. And there are plenty of arguments for and against going around. Here we’re just going to try to share what we know and not take sides.

First; these credentials are being tested, not required, in destinations throughout the world for travel access. Every country has it’s own laws of what is legal or not and what can be required or not. In this test phase the goal is to determine both the feasibility and the actual execution capability of the requirement (how it impacts labor, travel time and more).

Second; for those of us who have traveled to other countries or Hawaii, we have already experienced the ‘testing’ requirement. It has not been easy nor inexpensive and the credential system may alleviate some of those challenges. That’s an important consideration.

Third; there are different restrictions in different countries (and even states!) so working towards a common system is important. Think about the Olympics, international trade meetings, the NFL in London or Mexico or just weddings and honeymoons. The impact of different restrictions is hard to manage.

Lastly; the White House has issued repeated statements that ‘it will not’ create any kind of national vaccine credential. There’s not a federal mandate for immunization so how can there be a federal vaccine requirement? But at the same time other countries are creating these requirements…that’s their prerogative as every country is governed by it’s own laws.

Bottom line; its not up to us, individually, to debate the merits. What we should do is consider where we want to travel and what our vaccination status is. Period. If another country has a restriction, or not, that is their business and we, as travelers, must know in advance and decide if we can, or want to, travel there.

So, yes, there are vaccine credential requirements in some parts of the world. There is no federal program in the United States. But you need to be up to date on travel guidelines and restrictions throughout the US and around the world. Travel is certainly complicated and that is one of the many reasons drive trips have become so popular in the past year. This trend will continue for some time to come. So go ahead, gas up and head out on the road or book a flight to get outta town…and be sure to do your research first!

-Todd Aaronson