State vaccination certificates now recognized for entry into PHL


BALIKBAYANS from the United States and Canada will have an easier time coming home this holiday season as government eased the documentary requirements for their entry into the Philippines.

Tourism Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Atty. Edwin R. Enrile told the BusinessMirror that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has approved the presentation of “state digital  or physical vaccination certificates” for foreign nationals vaccinated abroad, “which will allow New York and California residents to come in with their Healthvana and Excelsior [records],” as in the case of US residents.

Healthvana is an online medical data resource based in California, which digitizes vaccination records, while Excelsior is New York’s vaccination portal. Both the US and Canada are on the Philippines’s Yellow List of countries, which has moderate risk for Covid-19.

There are an estimated 1.4 million Americans of Filipino descent, while there are 851,410 who identify as Filipino-Canadians.

For his part, Jose C. Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, welcomed the “further easing of requirements of the proof of vaccination for our returning balikbayans. We would like to express our gratitude to the IATF and the DOT (Department of Tourism) as this development will contribute greatly to the industry as we continue to move forward. Our balikbayans can now look forward to coming home for the Christmas holidays.”

Those arriving from Yellow List countries, however, still have to quarantine at a hotel “until the release of their negative RT-PCR testing taken on the fifth day. After which, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine until their 10th day, with the day of arrival being the first day,” as per IATF Resolution No. 144-A dated October 14, 2021.

Clemente, who is also president of Rajah Tours Philippines, said, “They [balikbayans] don’t mind the five-day facility quarantine. They’re happy it’s been shortened to that.”

How to prove vaxx status

In a memorandum by Health Undersecretary Atty. Charade B. Mercado-Grande to Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) Director Dr. Ferdinand S. Salcedo dated October 15, 2021, a copy of which was obtained by the BusinessMirror, she said: “Please be guided that the IATF has agreed that OFWs and their spouse, parent/s, and/or children traveling with them vaccinated abroad, and non-OFWs vaccinated abroad may present any of the following: 1. Their national/state digital certificate of the foreign government where they were vaccinated without the need of a reciprocity agreement; 2. Vaccination certificates issued by any of the states of the United States of America, whether digital or physical; 3. Vaccination certificates issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whether digital or physical; or 4. Vaccination certificates issued by any of the provinces or territories of Canada, whether digital or physical.”

A similar letter confirming said provisions was also sent to Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade.

Clemente earlier raised the issue of the added cost to balikbayans to secure an ICVP and having it signed by medical professionals, when the BoQ may have no way of even authenticating the document. (See, “Balikbayans raise concerns on new PHL entry requirements,” in the BusinessMirror, October 13, 2021.)

Image courtesy of Contributed photo

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