a hand holding a phone and a card

When I received my covid-19 booster in New York City just over a week ago, I left the appointment with a distinctive lack of confidence. Not about the vaccination, no, that was great, but about being able to prove my renewed status digitally.

After receiving the Moderna booster I wanted to know when I could expect the vaccination record to show up in my digital New York State ‘Excelsior Pass’ wallet, in response to a growing number of countries requiring digital, rather than paper proof, and or adding goalposts of vaccination dose expiration dates.

The response was basically shrugged shoulders and maybe a couple weeks?

At that point in time, New York State hadn’t announced a mechanism to add boosters to the digital Excelsior Pass, and many feared that digital proof of their latest shot may prove difficult to achieve.

For people eager to visit countries where this digital proof matters, travel plans would need to be on hold, until dependable answers presented themselves.

Over night, New York added a ‘Excelsior Pass Plus’, which is an updated version of the pass offered to anyone who’s received a booster, and for international travel plans, it’s keeping hopes alive.

a hand holding a phone and a card

Excelsior Pass Plus

So far, my experience hasn’t been perfect (I’ll need to have Walgreens correct some information before I receive my Plus pass), but New Yorkers who have received their booster can now sign up to Excelsior Pass Plus, rather than just Excelsior Pass.

This new setup offers the latest updated booster information and is the next iteration of the original Excelsior Pass. A full FAQ on the pass can be found here.

Why This Matters For Travel

Obviously, it’s good to know about a way to update your vaccination records to reflect the latest information for an endless number of reasons.

But as noted, countries are becoming much stricter with what counts for anyone who wishes to enter quarantine free. Most countries accept US CDC vaccination cards, but some don’t. Some now insist that a digital, scannable form of proof be presented.

In addition, many are creating new goal posts where someone is no longer eligible for entry, if it’s been more than either 6 months, 9 months or 1 year from the last received dose. This means having up to date booster information is vital to being admitted for travel into a growing list of countries.

If you’ve received your New York State covid-19 vaccination booster, be sure to add your information to the new Excelsior Pass Plus. It may open doors not only in New York, but internationally too. And yes, you should carry the paper card too!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. question for you – what do people who only have a CDC certificate do to populate data into the required digital vaccine passport? My state (North Carolina) doesn’t have a digital pass similar to NY. However, we do have a state digital registry (just don’t know if I can export information from it). Similarly my healthcare provider has a digital record of my vaccination (and booster I plan to get 11/30 so it will be within 6 months for a planned trip to Sweden in May) in my electronic medical record but, again, not sure if that can be exported into an acceptable digital passport. Also, assume you know that countries which don’t accept certificates also are typically very specific on which “digital vaccine passport” you must have so even if you has the NY digital vaccine passport it may not be accepted any more than CDC certificats. How do those of us that don’t have a digital passport, like in NY, provide this digital proof or populate existing digital data into it?

    BTW, I have the Clear app loaded since I needed that to play in the World Series of Poker and also have the AA/BA app plus 4 or 5 other digital passports. It would seem that countries which require digital proof or a QR (which I can understand makes it a lot easier on everyone) would have a way to populate that info but frankly I’m not sure if the process is that mature.

    As of now planning trips in March and May to EU countries which accept the US certificate but am all for going fully digital – just not sure who will develop the standard or build a process for people to load data into it. BTW 40 years in IT so I fully recognize the challenges of building a standard and the interoperability (plus privacy) concerns that exist but it just seems this is a problem that has to be solved unless COVID magically disappears.

    1. I am with you in the sense that unfortunately, there are more questions than answers right now. My hope and dream is that states would sign off on exporting their database to a federal level, and this could become tied to passport biometric data, or something seamless which eliminates all these layers of complexity. For now, I’m just trying to jump on any opportunity to load up onto a digital platform. I’m not worried about someone having access to my vaccination records! Have at it hah!

    2. I got my first two shots in NY. I live in both NY and Paris . Yes it’s true they accept the CDC certificate or rather they used to. To make Life easier and not having to pull out the card every time and not risking no entry in restaurants etc , it is recommended to have your certificate converted into digital format . This is can be done in pharmacies ( not all, down) in Paris . It used to cost 20 euros , now it’s 36 euros . At that point , it is considered EU and you can travel through all countries including UK. NY excelsior QR code not valid in Europe . I really hope , they become more universal . Enough is enough already . Now , I am coming back to NY, and my booster was done in Paris and added to my digital certificate . The dilemma is , it can’t be added to my excelsior pass. So what am I to do ? Walk around with NY pass which expires in may 2022 and show my other one ? Too much tress and confusion .

  2. Hi Gilbert, I was just in NYC after travelling there for work for the first time in 20 months. It is great to see all the bars and restaurants wanting proof of ID and vaccinations, it makes you feel safer. Idiots who don’t want this obviously are just not looking at the evidence and the scientific proof. I met lots of “non Vaxers” and they are not, as Don says above, minorities etc (obviously a racist) they are just people who are not getting access to the proper news and research. There is a big problem in the USA with misinformation and it is killing people.

  3. Unfortunately even if you have received your booster and retrieved your Excelsior Pass Plus again, it’s a gamble if the booster will show up. I received my booster over a month ago and my Pass Plus still only has the first two doses. I called the state phone line for the excelsior pass and they validated that all three Pfizer doses are in the state immunization registry, so it must just not be replicated on the Excelsior Pass side yet. First told Monday to wait two days, today I got told to wait another week… very frustrating!

  4. Were you able to use your digital cert in Europe? Headed to Spain next week and it would be awesome to use my excelsior plus pass but if not, will still have my paper copy.

    1. Hey! In Spain, my CDC card was accepted without issue, and I think just showing the Excelsior pass is good too. Bring both, of course, but Spain has (thus far) been more lax and accepting of foreign certs than others. I was able to jump on France allowing EU DCC conversion for US CDC cards, which is making life much easier here, but alas that door is now closed unless you are in country there (and it now costs about €39).

  5. I have the New York State Vaccine Pass but I also have the NYC Vaccine Pass which lets you upload a picture of your ‘paper’ CDC vaccine. I use both because the New York City Pass allows you to show your third booster shot. it also lets you upload your very latest covid test. I am currently traveling thru Europe and I use all three to prove my status.

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