Vaccine passport - 'Laissez-passer' for opening up in the post-COVID-19 pandemic period

13/11/2021| 17:07

In an interview, General Director of the Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Thi Huong Lan said that the vaccine passport is an important "laissez-passer" to help Viet Nam soon resume international travel activities...

Vaccine passport - 'Laissez-passer' for opening up in the post-COVID-19 pandemic periodGeneral Director of the Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Thi Huong Lan. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

Could you please update the policy on foreign experts entering Viet Nam recently?

Since May 2020, Viet Nam has maintained the policy of limited entry and exit.

Foreigners are not allowed to enter the country except those entering Viet Nam for diplomatic and official purposes; investors, technical experts, high-skilled workers and their family members; students taking courses in Viet Nam and those entering Viet Nam for medical and humanitarian purposes.

In order to facilitate the entry of foreigners, in July 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with relevant ministries and sectors, developed an entry approval process in the direction of attaching local responsibilities in approving the mandatory concentrated quarantine plan after entering Viet Nam, thereby ensuring favorable conditions for the entry of foreign experts while meeting the requirements for COVID-19 disease control.

Following the Government's direction on creating more optimal conditions for foreign workers, experts, investors and other special subjects to serve development goals in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have consulted other ministries, sectors and localities about the unsolved problems and proposed competent authorities to speed up the adjustment of the approval process for foreigners to enter Viet Nam in the direction of adding vaccine passports to the visa application and issuance process, reducing application processing time, increasing decentralization for ministries and sectors for expert delegations invited by these agencies.

In the coming time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to coordinate with relevant agencies to develop and complete policies and procedures on entry-exit and healthcare to attract foreigners to Viet Nam, thus serving the development target in the post-COVID-19 period and avoiding the risk of falling behind.

What has the Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs done in researching and promoting the deployment of vaccine passports?

The Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs has soon studied the experiences of other countries in deploying vaccine passports, such as the set of criteria, information displayed on the paper, conditions for international travel, for example: English fluency, the number of travel documents...

On the basis of this research, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has proposed to the Prime Minister to approve the set of criteria for Viet Nam's vaccine passports as well as the criteria for recognising foreign vaccine passports in Viet Nam to help ministries and sectors jointly implement the vaccine passport policy.

Right after receiving the direction of the Government Leader, the Consular Department has developed a specific negotiating plan with countries step by step, taking into account the factors of prioritizing important partners and ensuring the legitimate rights and interests of Vietnamese citizens.

The Consular Department has directly negotiated with other countries in different ways.

On the one hand, we inform countries about Viet Nam's policy of being willing to exchange for mutual recognition of vaccine passports, informing countries about Viet Nam's recognition criteria.

On the other hand, we have collaborated with relevant agencies under the Ministry of Health and other ministries and sectors for the temporary recognition of vaccine passports from other countries, thereby piloting instructions on the 7-day concentrated quarantine for fully vaccinated people.

As of October 21, there have been four flights with vaccine passport holders to Viet Nam and four more flights are deployed this October. The evaluation effect of relevant agencies, as well as those of people entering the country under this policy, is very positive.

The Consular Department has also discussed with each country to mutually recognize vaccine passports and apply preferential entry and medical measures for vaccine passport holders entering the other side.

Vaccine passport - 'Laissez-passer' for opening up in the post-COVID-19 pandemic periodViet Nam accepts vaccine passports from 72 countries and territories. (Photo: VNA) 

Could you please tell readers about the mutual recognition of vaccine passports between Viet Nam and other countries in creating favorable conditions for foreigners to enter Viet Nam and Vietnamese citizens to go abroad?

Up to now, Viet Nam's temporary recognition of vaccine passports from 72 countries and territories lays the basis for these documents to be used directly in Viet Nam and to reduce the time of concentrated quarantine to 7 days according to the guidance of the Ministry of Health.

This temporary recognition contributes to facilitating the implementation of pilot programs for people entering Viet Nam with vaccine passports in the context that the country is expected to carry out a pilot program of short-term quarantine in Quang Ninh as well as Phu Quoc in the near future.

Besides that, the negotiations and exchanges with other countries on mutual recognition of vaccine passports are being carried out and have yielded positive results.

The Consular Department is concurrently discussing with nearly 80 partners about mutual recognition of vaccine passports.

So far, Japan and the UK are ready to recognize Viet Nam's certificate of Immunization and allow using the paper in these countries from October 1 and October 11, 2021, respectively.

Many countries such as Hungary, the US, and India are also positively considering Viet Nam's proposal to recognize each other's vaccine passports.

However, one of the difficulties in the negotiation process is that Viet Nam does not have a vaccine passport template across the country, which is issued simultaneously in the electronic environment and its paper version with authentication code in accordance with international standards.

In the near future, after the relevant authorities issue a vaccine passport form of Viet Nam with an electronic authentication code in accordance with international standards, the Consular Department believes that countries will quickly recognize the document and facilitate entry and quarantine for people exiting from Viet Nam.

At that time, along with the reopening of international commercial routes and high vaccination rate in Viet Nam and around the world, we can fully expect an early resumption of international travel activities, towards full opening by 2022 as well as implementing the foreign policy goals and tasks set out at the 13th Party Congress.

TINH NHI

 

At a regular press conference via videoconference on October 21, answering reporters’ inquiries on the recognition and use of other countries' vaccine passports in Viet Nam, spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said, under Resolution No. 128/NQ-CP on October 1, 2021, on safely and flexibly adapting to and effectively controlling the pandemic, Viet Nam is temporarily recognising COVID-19 vaccination certificate/passport forms of 72 countries and territories that have been officially introduced to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The list of these nations and territories having officially introduced their forms to Viet Nam is regularly updated on the Foreign Ministry’s portal for consular work.

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