COVID-19 vaccine certificates – information you need to know

What are COVID-19 vaccine certificates, what can they be used for and how do you get them? Read on to find out.

Key Points

  • There are three kinds of vaccination certificates – the International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, COVID-19 Digital Certificate and the immunisation history statement 

  • The certificates are proof to local and international authorities that the certificate holder has been vaccinated against COVID-19 

  • Certificates can be requested and downloaded through the myGov website

For more than 18 months, Australians have navigated COVID-19 and its unpredictable restrictions, lockdowns, quarantines, and border closures. As Australia reaches 70 per cent double-vaccination targets, the end is in sight for those keen to see loved ones across state and international borders.  

But as excitement builds, so too do questions about the vaccine certificates – including the newly released International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate.  

So, before you dust off the suitcase and book your airfares, first take a closer look at what the certificates are, where you’ll use them and how to get them.  

What’s the difference between the certificates?

There are three kinds of documents or certificates available. Each provides proof that you have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination and are fully immunised against the virus – but they are each used for different purposes.  

  • The International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate is required for all international travel. It includes a QR code that is readable globally and complies with agreed international travel standards set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. 
  • The COVID-19 Digital Certificate may be required to enter some venues locally and to travel domestically, but isn't recognised internationally.  
  • The immunisation history statement is another way you can provide proof within Australia that you have received both vaccinations, but will show all immunisations you have received.  

You do not need an International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate if you are travelling within Australia. You can use either a COVID-19 Digital Certificate or immunisation history statement as proof. 

How do I access the vaccine certificates?

The International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate is available for download through the myGov website or in printed form. People eligible for Medicare will be able to download a certificate from the myGov website or the Medicare online account.  

You'll also need to have an Australian passport or visa, and your immunisation needs to be recorded in the Australian Immunisation Register. You'll need to provide your passport details, and you'll receive proof of vaccination – complete with a QR code – that can be scanned when you enter another country. 

Once some international travel resumes on 1 November 2021, you'll be able to present it either on your phone, or as a printout when your passport is checked as you enter your destination country. 

Has your passport expired during COVID-19? There may be significant delays in processing new passports as international travel comes back online. For details, check out this other Connect article.

Where can the International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate be used?

The list of countries you can travel to is growing daily but most, if not all countries, have some restrictions in place for travellers.  

While the certificate will meet international standards, it's up to each country to decide what proof of vaccination it will accept. You may be required to provide a vaccine certificate as well as a negative COVID-19 test pre-departure or upon arrival.  

The Federal Government advises Australians planning to travel overseas to read up on their destination's requirements on the Smartraveller website before leaving Australia. 

Is the International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate secure?

The International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, with the built-in QR codes, is as secure as a traditional passport. It carries a higher level of encryption than proof of vaccination certificates currently available for domestic use. 

How do I get the International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate without internet access or a smart phone?

If you do not have internet access or a smart phone, you can request for an international certificate by either: 

More information about the International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate is available on the Services Australia website

How to access your COVID-19 digital certificate

You can get a COVID-19 digital certificate or your immunisation history statement to show proof of your vaccinations. 

How you get proof depends on your situation. This includes if you need to create a myGov account, link services, or enrol in Medicare. 

If you’re 14 or older, you’ll need to get your own digital certificate or immunisation history statement using either: 

Once you’ve had all your required doses, you can add your COVID-19 digital certificate to your digital wallet

There are instructions to help with storing your proof on your device

If you’ve had mixed doses of approved vaccines, you can use your COVID-19 digital certificate or immunisation history statement as proof. 

Services Australia has developed a special online tool to find out the easiest way to get proof of your COVID-19 vaccinations, based on your situation. 

If you’re not eligible for Medicare

If you’re not eligible for Medicare, you need an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) to get your proof online. You can get an IHI using the Individual Healthcare Identifiers service (IHI service) through myGov

First, you need to check if you already have an IHI. You have an IHI if any of the following apply:

  • You have a Medicare card. 
  • You have a DVA card. 
  • You’re enrolled in Medicare.

If any of these do apply, you can get your proof using either your: 

If you don’t have an IHI, you can use the IHI service through myGov to apply for one and link it. To do this, sign in to myGov then: 

  1. Select Services or Link your first service.

  2. Select Individual Healthcare Identifiers service and then follow the prompts.

You don’t need an IHI to get the vaccines, you only need it to get proof of your vaccinations. 

If you’re a veteran

If you’re a DVA gold card holder and you have a Medicare number, you can access your COVID-19 digital certificate through either: 

If you’re a DVA gold card holder and don’t have a Medicare number, you’ll need to access your My Health Record and link it to your myGov account. This way, you’ll be able to get proof of your COVID-19 vaccinations. 

To do this, you’ll need to call the My Health Record enquiries line. They’ll verify your identity and give you an access code – also called an Identity Verification Code – to link your accounts. 

Find out how to get COVID-19 vaccination proof through My Health Record from the Australian Digital Health Agency website. 

If you can’t get proof online, you can also call the Australian Immunisation Register. Select option 4 for the AIR veteran and defence support line. Then ask them to send your immunisation history statement or COVID-19 digital certificate to you. It can take up to 14 days for your statement or certificate to arrive in the post. 

If you can’t get proof online

Your vaccination provider can print your immunisation history statement for you. 

You can also call the Australian Immunisation Register and ask them to send your immunisation history statement or COVID-19 digital certificate to you. It can take up to 14 days for your statement or certificate to arrive in the post. 

Am I able to travel if I’m not vaccinated?

While it is not explicitly stated by the government, it is likely that travel restrictions will continue for anyone who is unvaccinated or unable to prove their vaccination status.  

Looking forward to a reunited future

For many Australians, the vaccine certificates are so much more than a ‘licence to travel.’ It is a long-awaited means to family reunions, much-needed workers entering Australia and welcoming back international tourism.  

As with everything COVID-19, there are bound to be challenges as Australia balances the need to minimise the risk of the spread of the virus with the need to live with the virus. So, keep an eye on the latest updates from the state and federal governments to make sure you’re following the latest health and travel advice.  

Sources: Australian Government - Services Australia, Prime Minister of Australia, ABC News, and RACGP