China’s New ‘International Travel Health Certificate’ Explained

By Alistair Baker-Brian, March 9, 2021

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China recently offered a clue as to how international travel would return to normal post-COVID-19.

The country’s new ‘international travel health certificate,’ sometimes colloquially referred to as a ‘vaccine passport,’ was launched on Monday March 8 in the form of a WeChat mini-program. 

READ MORE: China-US Travel Could Return to Normal by August: CDC

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WeChat users can scan the code to access the WeChat mini-program. 

An individual’s information regarding vaccination, nucleic acid test result and more can be registered via the mini-program. In future, individuals will supposedly show the ‘certificate’ to travel overseas without any restrictions (we haven't reached that point yet!) 


So what is this ‘health certificate’? 

Here are some key features: 

  • An encrypted QR will allow relevant overseas authorities to verify the authenticity of the individual’s information.

  • The certificate will show an individual’s nucleic acid test result, serum antibody test result and whether or not said individual has been vaccinated.

  • The mini-program can be used by returnees to China from abroad and those traveling abroad from China.

  • A paper version of the certificate can be saved and printed out if necessary.  

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An example of the electronic version of the 'health certificate.' Image via Foreign Ministry's Department of Consular Affairs (published in China Daily)

Who can get the ‘international travel health certificate’?

At That’s, we tried registering via the WeChat mini-program and found that a mainland Chinese ID card was required. That means that, as of press time, the certificate is only available for Chinese mainland citizens. 

At a press conference on Sunday, March 7, foreign minister Wang Yi suggested that China would be willing to discuss mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccinations with other countries. This suggests that in future, given proof of vaccination, those traveling from overseas may be able to enter China without restriction. 

Where this leaves foreigners who reside in China however, remains unclear.

READ MORE: Who Has Priority for China's COVID-19 Vaccine?

Travel without quarantine?

Not yet! 

Whether or not China’s ‘international travel health certificate’ is truly a ‘vaccine passport,’ of course depends on whether it is accepted by relevant authorities overseas.  

At the annual Two Sessions in Beijing, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) suggested that in future, the ‘health certificate’ should replace mandatory quarantine for inbound travelers from overseas. 

But as of press time, this is merely a proposal. 


In short, there are a few more hoops to jump through to get international travel back to normal. The recent announcement is, however, a step in the right direction.

READ MORE: 6 Foreign Teachers Receive China's COVID-19 Vaccine

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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