Do You Need an International Certificate of Vaccination?

I’m not normally somebody you go to for travel advice, but when I posted on my Instagram Stories about getting my International Certificate of Vaccination (ICV) from the Bureau of Quarantine, I was really surprised to see so many people asking questions about this little yellow card.

If you’re not familiar with it, the ICV (otherwise known as the Yellow Card or Carte Jaune) is a World Health Organization document that shows what you have received immunisations and prophylaxis regimens for. In the Philippines, the ICV is issued by the Bureau of Quarantine under the Department of Health.

Pre-pandemic, international travelers would get their ICVs for yellow fever, polio, and typhoid depending on the requirements of their destination countries. (Requirement to secure ICV for smallpox helped in the eradication of that disease, FYI.) The BOQ does two things: it can either issue the vaccination itself, or certify the vaccination you’ve had done.

What I got from the BOQ is a certification of COVID-19 vaccination. They started issuing this certification since July 15, 2021 due to Advisory No. 55-A from the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operation Center (NVOC). It’s an interim guideline and measure while the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) finishes the Philippine digital vaccine certification system.

THIS IS NOT A MANDATORY REQUIREMENT AFTER COVID-19 VACCINATION.

Watch my vlog about the ICV or scroll down for more information.

YOU DON’T NEED AN ICV, UNLESS…

If you don’t plan to travel outside of the Philippines, you don’t need the ICV. And if you do plan to travel, not all countries require an ICV as proof of vaccination. (In fact, Hong Kong won’t even accept ICVs issued in the Philippines because they don’t recognise us as a stringent certification authority…)

The only reason I got an ICV is because I had somewhat definite plans to travel internationally later this year. Of course, with many parts of the Philippines going back into Enhanced Community Quarantine those plans are looking less and less likely. However, I wanted to have my ICV ready instead of scrambling to get one.

That being said, here’s how to get your International Certificate of Vaccination for COVID-19.

How to Get an International Certificate of Vaccination

Unlike the Department of Foreign Affairs which issues our passports, the Bureau of Quarantine has a significantly smaller footprint of offices around the country. As a result, slots to get the ICV are limited and the BOQ is prioritising OFWs, seamen, and travelers with confirmed bookings.

The BOQ’s website is quarantine.doh.gov.ph. There you’ll find instructions on how to secure an appointment through their online booking system, as well as a link to the booking platform itself: boq.pisopay.com.ph

The BOQ offers certification for COVID-19 vaccination.

I won’t take you through the whole process, but I can give you some tips.

  • Have photos/scans of your valid government-issued ID and the front and back of your vaccination card ready. You need to upload this when you set your appointment.
  • Use an e-wallet like GCash for ease of payment for the booking. While you’ll get a surcharge of Php 70, it beats having to hightail it to a convenience store like 7-Eleven to pay. (Credit cards don’t seem to work.)
  • Take note of your reference number. Write it down, screenshot it, anything will work because the booking website won’t send you a confirmation email. You need your reference number and birthdate to retrieve your appointment details.

Unlike getting your passport, the BOQ will print your ICV during your appointment. You need to show your ID and vaccination card for them to confirm the details to print.

(You can also send an authorised representative instead of showing up yourself; you just need to give them a letter of authorisation alongside your ID and vaccination card.)

The ICV for COVID-19 Vaccine has no expiration date.

I booked my appointment nearly three weeks ago when we didn’t know the Enhanced Community Quarantine would be taking place from August 6 to 20. The BOQ at their Mall of Asia satellite branch will operate from 8am to 2pm during ECQ. If you booked an appointment slot after 2 pm, just come earlier.

I hope this helps you if you are thinking of getting an ICV.

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About Noelle De Guzman

Noelle De Guzman is a freelance writer and recreational athlete with over 12 years of experience in wellness and endurance sport. She believes sport and an active healthy lifestyle changes lives.

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