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Is the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for travel?

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The Covid-19 vaccine is more accessible to more people. While it is possible to get free Krispy Kreme donuts and other freebies to show proof of vaccination, is the Covid-19 vaccine required to travel?

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When are you fully vaccinated?

People are declared “fully vaccinated” 14 days after receiving their last coronavirus vaccine. For two-dose injections like Moderna and Pfizer, it is two weeks after the second dose.

Most cruises require a vaccine

It looks like the cruise industry will be the first travel industry to make vaccinations mandatory for all crews and guests. Each cruise line sets its own policy. No government law requires vaccination.

These smaller US cruise lines need a vaccine once the cruise resumes:

  • American Cruise Lines
  • American Steamboat Co.
  • UnCruise Adventures

Large-ship ocean cruises also require vaccines, although larger cruise ships have been slower to announce a vaccination requirement. Royal Caribbean is offering 7-day cruises from the Bahamas starting in June 2021. Crystal Cruises and Celebrity Cruises have similar policies for their cruises. These cruises depart from ports in the Caribbean, Europe and the Mediterranean.

All adults will need an appropriate vaccination for the different cruise lines. Although children are not currently required to be vaccinated, this policy may change once a vaccine for children under 16 becomes available.

You probably won’t need a vaccine to board a plane to get to port, but you will need it to get on the cruise ship.

So far, oceanic cruises have not been scheduled from the United States due to the CDC’s no-sail order. This order is not expected to end until November 1, 2021. The liners have not announced whether cruises departing from the United States will require a vaccine.

However, trends indicate that the first oceanic cruises from the United States will require a vaccine when the day comes.

Airlines don’t need a vaccine

Airlines do not yet require vaccination for domestic or international airlines. But airlines have repeatedly said they do not expect a significant rebound in international travel until most travelers are vaccinated. In November 2020, Qantas said it would eventually require international travelers to be fully vaccinated to board the plane.

For now, governments are demanding that travelers be vaccinated, but airlines are not. Several airlines make it easier for travelers to store and present their vaccination information without having their vaccination record on paper.

The International Air Travel Association’s IATA Travel Pass is in an advanced stage of development. This free application can store the following information:

  • Travel passport
  • Covid-19 test before travel
  • Proof of vaccination
  • Travel itinerary

This digital app can facilitate the arrival of leaflets and lift the quarantine restrictions that currently discourage long-distance travel.

Which countries need a Covid-19 vaccine?

Several travel destinations are starting to require a Covid-19 vaccine to enter and travel with minimal restrictions. Most places now require a pre-travel test to waive the mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days.

International vaccine-friendly destinations

Some of the countries where full vaccinations may waive the mandatory quarantine are:

  • Belize
  • Ecuador
  • Estonia
  • Georgia
  • Guatemala
  • Iceland
  • Madeira
  • Seychelles

Other entry requirements may also be in play. For example, visitors may need to stay at a government approved resort.

One country with the most developed immunity passports is Israel and its “green passport”. Residents fully vaccinated with the Green Pass do not have to self-quarantine after international travel and can enter indoor public spaces, including museums, hotels and restaurants inside.

Domestic vaccine-friendly destinations

Massachusetts has one of the most rigorous travel guidelines for residents and returning tourists. Most people have to go through a mandatory quarantine. Having a full vaccine or showing proof of proper recovery from Covid-19 within the past 90 days voids the Massachusetts travel quarantine.

Hawaii currently requires pre-travel diagnostic testing to waive self-quarantine. The state wants to start accepting proof of vaccination as early as 2021 to waive quarantine without passing the pre-travel test. So far, a vaccine is not required to travel between states.

Stadiums and arenas

American sports arenas are starting to require proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter. Some sites may also allow proof of vaccination to enjoy sports and concerts without taking a test. So far, several applications are used.

New York Excelsior Pass

New York State is deploying the Excelsior Pass which stores negative Covid-19 tests and proof of vaccination. The Pass may be required to enter places like Madison Square Garden.

Other large gatherings, like catered weddings, require guests to have a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination to participate in the event and comply with state law.


Some sports venues require proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter. One example is the Orlando Magic NBA team. Fans should upload their test results to the CLEAR app.

No professional sports league requires supporters to be fully vaccinated to enter the stadium for the 2021 season.

National immunity passports

Press reports also indicate that the Biden administration is working with different parties to create a national immunity passport. The travel industry and businesses have collaborated on a streamlined project to restore commerce to pre-pandemic levels with minimal social distancing restrictions.

No federal or state law requires a vaccine to enter a business, but some places may make it a standard requirement similar to wearing a mask.

Some of the companies that may possibly require proof of vaccination using this universal app include:

  • Concerts and other entertainment gatherings
  • Sports
  • Restaurants

America’s first university needs a vaccine

While this following information does not necessarily have an impact on leisure travel, it may affect seasonal student travel. An annual ritual for many young adults is to move into a college dormitory or off-campus accommodation each school year.

College students may need to be vaccinated to return to classes in person for the 2021-2022 academic year. Rutgers University is the first college in the United States to make student immunizations mandatory for on-campus classes. Mandatory student vaccinations may reduce the health risks of the spring break for the 2022 travel season when young people flock to beaches and other popular party spots.

Small indoor gatherings

The CDC recommends only small indoor gatherings between different households, without masks or social distancing, if all participants are fully immunized. Medium and large gatherings are always discouraged.

If you are traveling for a small public meeting, being fully vaccinated ensures that travelers will comply with current guidelines. Fully vaccinated people should wear a mask and keep their distance when visiting unvaccinated people.


Most travel activities do not require travelers to be fully immunized to participate. One notable exception is cruising. But this policy may change once the majority of the people have received their blow. For now, a vaccine may dispense with the need for a pre-arrival diagnostic test for international travel.

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