Some states are issuing vaccine passports — here’s what you need to know

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Vaccine passports are widely seen as a way to safely restart travel, and proof of vaccination is quickly becoming a requirement for cruises, tours and entry to certain international destinations.

And though the White House has said there will be no federal mandate for vaccine passports or plans for a vaccine database, individual states can still decide whether they want to roll out vaccine passports — or not.

Some states have already introduced their own digital health passports with assistance from the private sector, while others are still in development. But the idea is entirely off the table in several states. As a result, vaccine passports have created something of a flashpoint.

So, would you use a digital health credential or vaccine passport in the United States? Here’s what you need to know about state vaccine passports.

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In This Post


California said it didn’t have plans to roll out a state vaccine passport program, but one state representative said he would draft legislation to stop them.


Florida has said it would take executive action against vaccine passports, with Gov. Ron DeSantis calling the idea “completely unacceptable.”


(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Hawaii Gov. David Ige held a news conference last month where he said the state was still working on a Safe Travel vaccine passport.

The vaccine passport idea was first broached back in February when it was thought it could be up and running as soon as May. It would have allowed vaccinated travelers to skip quarantine and potentially even testing requirements.

But while there’s no word just yet on when a vaccine passport might be used in Hawaii, the state is partnering with two companies — Clear’s Health Pass and CommonPass — on digital health passes.

Related: Hawaii pushing back the date for vaccine passports, but good news on Kauai


In early April, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed an executive order banning any governmental entity in Idaho from requiring vaccine passports to receive public services or access facilities.

“Vaccine passports create different classes of citizens. Vaccine passports restrict the free flow of commerce during a time when life and the economy are returning to normal. Vaccine passports threaten individual freedom and patient privacy,” Little said in a statement.


Illinois will not create a state vaccine passport, according to its governor.

According to NBC Chicago, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said, “We want to make that available” if it’s something people desire, “but otherwise, it’s not something that we would require.”


Butte, Montana 2020. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Vaccine passports won’t be coming to Montana. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte issued an executive order last month banning the use of vaccine passports in Big Sky Country.

New York

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

New York is the first state to offer a vaccine passport. It partnered with IBM and used its technology to create the Excelsior Pass.

If you’re a New Yorker, you can use the Excelsior Pass if you have been fully vaccinated in New York state, and it’s been 14 days or longer since your final shot. You can also use it if you had a negative PCR test administered in New York within three days or if you took a negative antigen test in New York in the previous six hours.

The app was tested at the Brooklyn Nets game at the Barclays Center in February, where users showed their recent negative COVID-19 test as part of admission. New York City’s Madison Square Garden has also piloted the app as the state continues to ease restrictions and expand the ability to gather in larger groups.

Related: Your guide to vaccine passports


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned government-mandated vaccine passports in the state, saying that requiring them would “tread on our personal freedoms.”


Like several of his gubernatorial colleagues, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a law banning the state government from requiring vaccine passports — but private companies can still require them.

Bottom line

State vaccine passports have been a huge talking point as travel starts to reopen and rebound from the pandemic. But not all states agree on using them, which means you may travel to one state using a vaccine passport and then another where the use of them has been banned.

It’s not clear yet what some of these state passports may look like, or, for some, when they’ll be released. But what’s clear is that the federal government is leaving this issue entirely up to the states.

Featured image courtesy Clear

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