US travellers to Singapore can now submit other vaccination certs to use VTL: CAAS

Singapore citizens and permanent residents do not have to apply for a vaccinated travel pass before travelling back. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Travellers from the United States to Singapore who wish to use the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme but have difficulties producing a digitally verifiable vaccination certificate can now submit other documents to prove their vaccination status.

They can produce a physical vaccination record and a letter signed by the vaccination provider, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on Saturday (Nov 13).

The letter should contain the personal particulars of the traveller as well as details of his vaccination.

They can also provide a digital vaccination record retrieved through their state's or local health authority's public health database, said Ms Margaret Tan, director of airport operations regulation and aviation security at CAAS.

Singapore citizens and permanent residents do not have to apply for a vaccinated travel pass before travelling back, Ms Tan said in response to media queries.

They can show either the physical or digital record of their vaccination before departure at the airline check-in counter and to the immigration authorities on arrival in Singapore.

Short and long-term pass holders who are unable to upload their vaccination documents when applying for a vaccinated travel pass can apply to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's Safe Travel Office with either the physical or digital documents attached.

The move was in response to reported difficulties by Singaporeans in the US in using the VTL to enter Singapore. This is because some US vaccination records are not recognised as official proof by the authorities here.

Ms Tan said that CAAS is currently able to verify digital vaccination certificates issued in 15 of the 16 VTL countries, with the exception of the US, which does not have a national system or a standardised proof of vaccination.

Fourteen of them have a national system for the issuance of such certificates.

"Canada does not have a national system but has recently developed a standardised proof of vaccination in the Smart Health Card (SHC) format that is secure and verifiable," she added.

In the case of the US, there are multiple issuers including individual states, pharmacies, and supermarkets, said Ms Tan.

"For the US, we currently accept vaccination certificates that are issued in the SHC format by trusted issuers in the US on the CommonTrust Network or Vaccination Credential Initiative."

Remote video URL

The SHC standard is the predominant format used by individual states, she said. There are currently nine states that are issuing SHCs.

"When we started the VTL for the US, five states, namely California, Hawaii, Louisiana, New York and Virginia, were issuing SHCs."

Since then, four more states - Colorado, New Jersey, Utah and Washington State - have started issuing SHCs.

Another six states - Arizona, District of Columbia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Dakota and West Virginia - are in the process of doing so, while Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oklahoma have started testing the system, she added.

CAAS is working with third-party issuers that do not administer the vaccination but provide their users a digital vaccination record, she said.

These issuers check and verify the vaccination records submitted by their users, for example with state vaccination registries, often for a fee.

"We are not able to accept the digital certificates issued by third-party issuers which do not do such checks," she said.

As the SHC is rolled out to more states and more credible third-party issuers come on board, CAAS expects most travellers from the USA to be able to produce a digitally verifiable vaccination certificate within the next one to two months, said Ms Tan.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.