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Hawaii NewsKokua Line

Kokua Line: Can I use my Hawaii vaccine card to fly home from Japan without quarantine?

Question: I am 100% vaccinated in Honolulu. I need to go to Japan for a few weeks. Can I use my vaccine card to return home without quarantining?

Answer: No. “At this time, travelers arriving from international destinations are not eligible to participate in the Safe Travels Vaccination Exception Program. When Hawaii achieves a 70% vaccination rate, all restrictions on travel will be lifted and the Safe Travels program will end,” according to Hawaii’s COVID-19 portal, hawaiicovid19.com.

This restriction applies to all passengers arriving in Hawaii from international destinations, regardless if they are returning residents previously vaccinated here against COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, Hawaii’s vaccination rate stood at 55%, according to the state’s count.

Although you won’t be able to use your vaccination card to bypass quarantine, you can do so by getting tested for COVID- 19 under the approved process and presenting your negative test result before you board your flight home from Japan. Dozens of Trusted Testing and Travel Partners in Japan participate in Hawaii’s Safe Travels program. See the list at hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners.

Q: I uploaded all my information for the vaccine exception, but it said my card could not be verified. I got both shots in Honolulu. Now what?

Q: I am flying home Saturday, and I cannot upload my vaccine card no matter how many times I try. Am I going to have to get tested anyway?

Q: I see that before Tuesday everyone needed a QR code issued 24 hours before travel to make entry into Hawaii smooth. Is a QR code still needed for returning vaccinated residents who have uploaded their vaccine information?

Answer: These are a few of the many questions we received after the vaccine exception took effect Tuesday for passengers who were vaccinated against COVID-19 in Hawaii and are entering Hawaii from U.S. states and territories. Such travelers may upload their vaccination document into their account on the Safe Travels digital platform, at travel.hawaii.gov, and follow the applicable process.

Sheri Kajiwara, special- projects administrator for the Safe Travels program, said passengers were able to upload their vaccine documents as of 2 a.m. Monday, a day earlier than anticipated. She answered the three previous questions:

>> If a passenger successfully uploaded their vaccine card but the automated system could not verify it, the passenger should present the hard copy of the card when they arrive in Hawaii so an airport screener can manually verify it. All passengers are instructed to bring their vaccine credential with them.

>> No, an eligible passenger who is unable to upload their vaccine card doesn’t have to worry about being tested instead. The passenger may seek technical assistance via the Safe Travels website (read the FAQs or contact for help as described on the website). Step-by-step instructions for uploading a vaccination document are at 808ne.ws/vacup; see question 0.2.10. If they are unable to upload the document before their trip, they may seek assistance from an airport screener after they land in Hawaii. This will slow them down in line but is an option for people struggling with the digital platform.

>> Yes, a QR code is needed, and you won’t receive it until you answer the health questionnaire 24 hours before your flight. The vaccine exception gives eligible travelers an option besides pre-travel testing to avoid Hawaii’s 10-day quarantine. It is a tool within the Safe Travels system, which requires each adult traveler to create an account; add trip details; apply for a quarantine exemption or exception, if applicable; fill out a health questionnaire; and, if quarantined, check in daily for the duration.


A big mahalo to a kind stranger, Mr. Turner, who on Saturday at the Manoa Laundromat helped me negotiate what was for me a complex payment option. I arrived with all my quarters to find a new and complicated system (at least for me, a low-tech senior). With his generous help, I was able to finish my laundry and still make my 3 p.m. function. Thank you. — M.M.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

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