The 'surprise' announcement that the USA will be opening its border to vaccinated visitors came with little warning but not without precedent.
Countries such as Israel and even the Cook Islands have already said that they want proof of Covid immunisation before Kiwis book a trip there. However the States is by far the largest country to propose quarantine-free travel based on vaccine history.
The White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients had been working on a project to streamline the complex entry requirements since at least the beginning of the month. However, the announcement on Monday was not expected.
Zients said his "new system" aimed to replace the hodge-podge of quarantine requirements and outright travel bans which had been in place since the last administration.
This led to travellers from Europe, the UK, India, China and other countries having to forgo travel to America or face lengthy 14-day layovers in third countries.
Yesterday, he announced that by November the US would be welcoming vaccinated travellers.
"This is based on individuals rather than a country-based approach, so it's a stronger system," said Zients.
Fully vaccinated passengers will not be required to quarantine, he said.
While the news was welcomed loudest among transatlantic airlines such as British Airways, it looks like vaccine-based entry requirements are likely to be the norm for international travel.
Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss called it "a major milestone" for travel more generally.
It's a flight path out of the confusion of international travel mid-pandemic. Yet there are still some questions to finalise before the wheels are down on vaccine-based international travel and borders are reopened.
We've landed back at the question of how passengers will be able to carry proof of vaccination.
Will it be a standardised document like the 'vaccine passport' being plugged by airlines or will we have to be mindful which countries might vito a Kiwi vax-stamp?
The Ministry of Health currently says they are "unable to guarantee that other countries will recognise your Covid-19 vaccination letter as formal proof of vaccination."
Come November will a paper vaccination letter be enough to open the door for vaccinated travellers heading abroad?
Where you need a vaccine passport to visit
Israel has been one of the quickest adopters of the vaccine passport system. Vaccinated travellers returning from low risk countries only required to self isolate for 24 hours, compared to fourteen days for non-vaccinated returnees.
Visas are being granted for some travellers to Israel, however your letter from MoH won't get you far. Currently the country is only accepting records from those vaccinated in Israel.
Singapore is another popular port of call for Kiwi travellers. New Zealand was one of the few destinations from which enjoyed quarantine-free travel until recently. There is currently a seven-day isolation period ( or Stay at Home Notice) for visitors from New Zealand at an address of their choice.
However from the beginning of this month a Vaccinated Travel Pass has opened up the country to visitors from Germany and Brunei. Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) have been opened in airports to allow visitors to bypass quarantine, with a negative pre-departure and arrival test result.
In a pilot stage the VTL is not yet open to Kiwi travellers. There is an aim to digitise the process to allow for more vaccinated visitors to visit from other countries.
The Phuket 'Sand Box' is Thailand's testing ground for vaccinated travellers.
In July Thailand opened the island resort to fully vaccinated leisure visitors and similar programmes were launched in Koh Samui and Koh PhaNgan. While tourists are able to enjoy the beach in Phuket quarantine free, in effect it is a glamorous isolation resort.
Tourists wishing to visit the rest of Thailand will face tests and possible quarantine.
The Risk List
Morocco is one of the countries already differentiating between vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists. Visitors from high-risk 'red list' countries will be able to bypass 10 days of managed quarantine with proof of vaccination.
While the US has announced it will be opening the borders to vaccinated tourists, many countries already require American visitors to be double jabbed.
Many European countries and even neighbouring Canada require proof of vaccine for visitors from the US which remains on their 'high risk' lists.
Last week the Cook Islands prime minister announced that when the quarantine-free bubble resumed with New Zealand it would only be accepting vaccinated visitors.
Even vaccinated travellers currently have to book thorough MIQ on return to New Zealand.
"Regardless of what vaccine you received overseas or in New Zealand, restrictions still apply at New Zealand's border," says the Ministry of Health.
However the plan to develop digital vaccination certificates and risk adjusted pathways for entry into New Zealand suggests that a vaccine-based entry system could be in place by early next year.
Last month, in the optimistically named"'Plan to Reconnect New Zealand to the World" the Prime Minister's office said individual risk-based border restrictions would be in place by early 2022.
Restrictions could still be in place with Covid testing and isolation requirements from "High-Risk" countries. 14 days quarantine would be needed for all visitors returning from these countries, including those with proof of vaccination.
However, the ultimate goal was to provide something resembling open borders for travellers from approved, "safe" countries.
"The Low-Risk pathway will permit quarantine free entry for vaccinated travellers who have been in low risk countries," said the Prime Minister.
But what will pass as 'proof of vaccination' for inbound travellers is yet to be established.