Australia’s international vaccine passport system will come into effect from Tuesday, allowing travellers to prove their COVID-19 vaccination status abroad when overseas travel slowly returns to full capacity.
In a joint statement, Employment Minister Stuart Robert and Health Minister Greg Hunt today said both Australian citizens and visa holders with valid passports will gain access to the QR code-based system.
Fully vaccinated applicants with their jab registered on the Australian Immunisation Register will be free to download the certificate through MyGov or the Medicare phone app.
From there, travellers will be able to print their certificate, or share with with compatible travel apps like the International Air Transport Association Travel Pass.
“The Visible Digital Seal technology within the international proof of vaccination is world-leading, it is as secure as an Australian passport, and authenticated in the same way,” the joint statement said.
“The international certificate meets the new global standard specified by the International Civil Aviation Organization and conforms with World Health Organization guidance.”
It is hoped the system will grant vaccinated Australians access to other countries without the restrictions imposed on non-vaccinated travellers, while also making life easier for passport holders upon their return.
The certificate has been a long time coming, with the creation of a globally-compatible vaccine passport a key focus for the federal government.
Renewed focus on New Zealand and Singapore
The vaccine passport’s arrival will also coincide with the return of quarantine-free travel between NSW, Victoria, and the South Island of New Zealand, which was suspended due to recent COVID-19 outbreaks in both nations.
The bubble arrangement will return from midnight Tuesday, Hunt told reporters on Sunday.
“We hope to allow anyone who’s been in the South Island of New Zealand, whether they’re Australians, New Zealanders or other nationalities, as long as they’ve been there for 14 days, to come in quarantine free,” he said.
The federal government is in advanced discussions with the Singaporean government about the possibility of a similar travel bubble between both nations, Hunt added.
Hunt said he “expedited” discussions of a ‘green lane’ travel proposal with Singaporean Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday.
The proposal is under “rapid development,” Hunt said.
“They’re obviously a highly sophisticated society, they have a very good handle on the disease and we’re exchanging approaches,” he added.
The focus on international travel was only intensified last week when New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the state will end all forms of quarantine for fully vaccinated international arrivals from 1 November.
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that plan did not signal a grand reopening of Australia’s international border, which was slammed shut in March 2020.
Hunt echoed that sentiment Sunday, confirming ‘phase one’ of the national reopening plan, soon to be enacted by NSW, will allow fully vaccinated Australian citizens to reenter the country while letting citizens leave.
‘Phase two’ will focus on priority visa holders and international students, Hunt said.
“And ‘Phase three’ would be for fully vaccinated international travellers, and that would include tourism, to arrive,” he added.