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The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected economies around the world and drastically reduced international travel and tourism. Millions of jobs have now been lost in this sector in Asia and the Pacific. As vaccination programmes roll out within the region and across the globe, countries are seeking to reopen their borders and/or lift quarantine requirements for visitors who have been vaccinated. In this regard, measures for verification of individuals’ vaccination status, particularly inbound travelers, are key to facilitating country re-openings and the recovery of travel and tourism.

This quick guide provides an overview of digital COVID-19 certificates (with a focus on vaccination) for the purpose of cross-border travel. It is targeted at governments and policymakers in the Asia-Pacific region who are vaccinating their population – or have reached a certain level of vaccination rate – and are interested in:

  • establishing domestic digital COVID-19 certificate systems, as well as cooperation and mutual recognition of systems from different countries; or
  • verifying the COVID-19 vaccination status of inbound travelers, without necessarily setting up a system for domestic digital certificates.

Contents include the current global landscape and challenges, key technical guidance from intergovernmental entities, suggestions for the design and implementation of digital COVID-19 certificate systems, upcoming resources, “next-step” guiding questions for policymakers, and an annex of example digital COVID-19 certificate systems.

This guide was developed as a follow-up to the ESCAP/WHO Regional Workshop on Digital COVID Certificate in support of cross-border travel and tourism recovery held on 16 Sep 2021.

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