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I got vaccinated and I want to attach my vaccination card to my passport. I figure that I can staple or glue it onto one of the pages reserved for visas. I wonder if that counts as modifying it or has unforeseen negative consequences. I have a US passport.

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    Do NOT glue till you have a clear answer. Stapling is less likely a problem, but I do know the details of what is allowed. – Willeke Mar 17 at 17:39
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    I'd get it laminated and carry it separately. Its likely you'll need it for domestic purposes too in the next few months. – JonathanReez Mar 17 at 17:53
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    Paperclips seem like a simple and safe solution. – Nate Eldredge Mar 17 at 18:11
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    In general it's not a good idea to disfigure your passport, this includes but is not limited to doodling, taking notes, maintaining your grocery list on empty pages. Different countries have different requirements and some may flat out refuse to accept a tampered passport. – nikhil Mar 17 at 19:47
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    @JonathanReez Don't laminate--there might be booster shots to add later. – Loren Pechtel Mar 19 at 2:04
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This is a bad idea, for at least two reasons. First, if a US government officer determines that the vaccine card constitutes an "unauthorized change, obliteration, entry or photograph" within the meaning of 22 CFR 51.4(g)(5), the officer could "either take possession of the passport or sends a written notice" to you rendering the passport invalid.

Second, any other country's laws might require its immigration inspectors to refuse to recognize the passport even if the US government holds that the passport is still valid. The last thing you want is trouble traveling to another country because of your vaccination card.

A better approach: use a paperclip, as suggested in the comments, or get a travel wallet to keep both documents. You might also consider a sleeve with a pocket, an envelope, or even a small booklet that you could glue the card into without invalidating the passport, that you could strap to the passport with a rubber band.

Now I realize I haven't actually made a definitive statement about whether gluing the card to the passport is allowed. But the potential consequences of doing it are sufficiently severe, and the likelihood sufficiently low that it is allowed (and that every government officer you meet will agree that it is allowed) that the best course of action is just to assume that it's fobidden.

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  • Of note: US officials are at least occasionally strict about this sort of thing. A friend of mine was once denied a US visa because he had a Soviet Unterzoegersdorf stamp in his passport. A pasted-in vaccination card is obviously more noticeable than a stamp from a fictional country, though it is never certain just how grumpy any individual officer is likely to get about it. I agree that the risks outweigh the benefits here. – mlc Mar 18 at 4:59
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    @mlc but a stamp from a fictitious country is arguably fraudulent, while a true vaccination card is not. I mention this because the US passport itself suggests that unauthorized modification could be a crime, but the statute defining the crime uses the word "falsely." The stamp your friend had is false; the card is not (which is why I didn't mention the criminal code in this answer). I'm not certain that distinction is relevant, but it might be. – phoog Mar 18 at 5:21
  • It's not a crime afaik under US law to modify a non-US passport, as in my friend's case. (It may or may not be a crime under the laws of their country of citizenship; I have no idea.) It ended up working out okay, as they were able to get a replacement passport and get the US visa put into that replacement, which makes me think the US was viewing the passport as damaged rather than fraudulent, but, again, avoiding being in a situation where you must discuss any of this with any official seems like the way to go here, especially when the solution is as simple as a paper clip. – mlc Mar 19 at 6:41
  • @mlc the relevant statute, 18 USC 1543, is not restricted to US passports. I would not expect the US to tolerate fraud perpetrated with a falsified foreign passport, would you? This of course underscores that the crime is the deception rather than the modification per se. – phoog Mar 19 at 12:04
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If you get the COVID vaccine in the US these days, you will be issued a "Vaccination Record Card" that follows the CDC-mandated format. However international travel would most likely require the International Certificate of Vaccination - or at least that's what the requirements seem to be currently. Specifically, that's what Iceland wants to see for non-EU/EEA issued vaccinations:

Certificates from the the World Health Organization (WHO) (the International Certificate of Vaccination or the Carte Jaune/Yellow Card) is also accepted for vaccines the WHO has validated.

Of course these requirements are in a constant state of flux and I won’t be surprised if the CDC certificate will eventually be accepted everywhere but I’d err on the side of caution and get the international version instead. So when you go get your vaccination, fill out the International certificate with your details (a blank version can be purchased on Amazon) and then ask the vaccination workers to stamp it in addition to the CDC paper. If that doesn’t work or you’ve already done your shot, you can always ask your doctor to do it instead.

Afterwards, travel with your passport and your international vaccine certificate. You might still need the CDC card for domestic purposes so I’d keep it safe too but you’re unlikely to need it for international trips.

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    This doesn't answer the question. – phoog Mar 19 at 3:00
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    @phoog I’m trying to explain why OP has the wrong solution to the underlying problem that they’re trying to solve. – JonathanReez Mar 19 at 7:52

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