Vaccine passport to become worldwide. What you will need to know in English

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Given it's the only way the virus ends up on our shores, international travel is going to be one of the last things to return to normal (whatever that is).

Even so, travel to most countries overseas is changing, with people now having to prove they're fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be allowed into various places and not quarantine.

Soon, Australians leaving the country will be issued their very own vaccine passport to show their vaccination status when they go overseas.

Here's what we know, and don't know, about the passport so far.

Passports available in weeks

The federal government is from October starting to roll out vaccination passports for people to use when they travel overseas.

The details are still being finalised but the passport will live in a phone app and have the same personal information your normal passport has, plus a QR code that other countries' border officials can scan to check your vaccination status.

At the moment, it'll either be Pfizer or AstraZeneca (which will be included as its new name, Vaxzevria, which is what it's recognised as overseas), and soon also Moderna.

The passport will be part of an internationally agreed system, kind of like ePassports, with the app and passport meeting international standards.

When people arrive back in Australia they won't have to show the vaccine passport, as the info on which jabs you've had will be linked to your passport.

The government is also still working out which vaccines other countries will accept when people travel.

Put simply, officials are working to make sure that even though countries might not be using the same vaccines we are, they still accept that Australians have been fully vaccinated with something that's been recognised by international bodies like the World Health Organization.

For example, AstraZeneca isn't used in the United States but has been given emergency approval by the WHO — something the US Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does recognise.

As for people coming to Australia in the future, the government will only recognise vaccines that've been approved by our national medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Does that mean the border could be opening soon?

Don't mean to burst any bubbles, but just because people may soon be issued a vaccine passport if they're going overseas, it's not a sign rules on international travel are about to ease.

There's still no clear indication of when the restrictions around leaving, and re-entering, the country might begin to shift.

What we do know is that having the international border reopen will rely on getting 80 per cent of the population fully vaccinated — something some states are steaming toward at the moment.

That said, some states have also flagged they may break away from the national plan and keep their borders — domestically and internationally — closed for even longer.

The vaccine passports will instead help people who have exemptions to travel internationally in the near future avoid having to quarantine when they land overseas.

Passports not for within Australia

Just to make one thing very clear — the passports or certificates we're talking about here are strictly for international travel, not for getting into pubs or doing other things once restrictions ease.

Digital vaccine certificates are already available in Australia and can be accessed and downloaded onto your phone, or found online through your Medicare account.

At the moment, though, the certificates are just proof that you've had one or two jabs.

In New South Wales, police have already flagged that they will be checking people's vaccination status when fully vaccinated people are allowed to begin to gather again.

The plan is also to include people's COVID vaccinations in the Service NSW check in app, to make it easier for venues to see in the future who has, and hasn't, had the jab, as well as who is exempt from getting one.

It's expected other states and territories will follow with similar plans, but most are still being worked through.

How do vaccine passports look overseas?

Different countries are tackling the vaccine passport issue differently, but all with the same goal of facilitating travel for vaccinated people.

In Europe, they have a digital COVID certificate that can also be printed, to help people prove they've had both jabs and are allowed to travel.

In America, travellers have used their CDC-issued proof of vaccination cards to get into Europe, Canada and the UK.

The aim is for ours to fit nicely into the international picture, but how exactly that looks we'll find out in a few weeks' time.

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