Do I need Covid booster jab to travel? Vaccine requirements for Covid pass, and does vaccination status expire

Some countries have now started to introduce ‘expiry dates’ on Covid vaccination for travel

The UK’s Covid booster vaccination programme continues to be rolled out, with around 12.6 million people having already received a third dose of the vaccine.

But are Covid boosters needed to be able to travel overseas?

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Do I need a Covid booster to travel?

Although many countries require travellers to be fully vaccinated with two doses of a Covid vaccine before being allowed to enter the country, some countries have also now started to introduce ‘expiry dates’ on Covid vaccination for travel, which is based on when people received their first and second doses.

Austria, Croatia, Switzerland and Israel have all set expiry dates for the validity of vaccines, which means vaccinations will effectively expire unless travellers have boosted their immunity with a third dose.

Currently, Austria recognises travellers as fully vaccinated providing no more than 12 months have passed since the last vaccine dose was given.

However, from 6 December two-dose vaccinations will only be valid for nine months after the second dose.

In Switzerland, authorities only consider a person to be fully vaccinated “for a period of 12 months from the date of complete vaccination”, while Croatia has put a 270-day limit on the validity of vaccines.

Israel currently has the strictest rules with travellers only permitted entry if their visit is due to end no more than 180 days after their second dose.

Lithuania has now included proof of booster jabs in its app for citizens, while France is introducing strict rules on boosters from next month.

As of 15 December, those aged 65 and over in France will only be allowed to travel and visit restaurants and museums if they have a Covid booster dose.

President Emmanuel Macron said in a TV address: “From 15 December, you will need to provide proof of a booster jab to extend the validity of your health pass.”

It is expected that more countries could follow suit and introduce similar policies, meaning proof of a third jab could become essential for travelling.

Does the NHS app show Covid booster vaccinations?

If more countries do start to require travellers to have had a booster vaccine - and to be able to prove this - then some UK holidaymakers face being refused entry because the NHS app does show proof of booster jabs.

At the moment, the Covid pass within the app only records first and second vaccinations, but does not recognise third ‘top-up’ doses.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the NHS app had not been designed to include records of booster doses, as “they are not required for domestic certification”.

Travel chiefs have warned that the omission of the third Covid dose from the app could mean travellers face being denied access to countries which require proof of a booster vaccine, unless the app is updated.

However, the Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference that the country would have to “adjust the concept of what constitutes a full vaccination”.

He said: “I think that we will be making plans to add the booster dose to the NHS Covid travel pass.

“But again, I think what the general lesson is for anybody who wants to travel, you can see that getting fully vaccinated with a booster is going to be something that will, on the whole, make your life easier in all kinds of ways including foreign travel.

“So I would just say, if you’re thinking about that, that this is yet another reason to get it done.”