A Guide to Yellow Fever Vaccination for International Travel

Traveling abroad can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s important to make sure that you are properly prepared for your destination. It could end up being a wondrous experience or an unpleasant one with us bringing a fatal disease to our home. In the current scenario of COVID-19, most of us can connect with this statement. To ensure our safety, WHO has worked for years and guided us to be safe from these lethal infections. One such measure in favor of travelers is the YELLOW CARD, also known as ICVP and CARTE JAUNE (its French equivalent).

Yellow Fever Vaccination with Passport and Yellow Card

Yellow Fever Vaccinations for international travel are essential for protecting oneself from yellow fever, a potentially fatal disease. It is important to research vaccinations that need to be administered before departing and understand the common symptoms of yellow fever to prevent it. In addition, obtaining a Yellow Card that serves as proof of yellow fever vaccination is essential when traveling to certain countries, especially in Africa. Let’s discuss vaccinations for international travel and the importance of protecting oneself against yellow fever. Learn about key vaccinations, common symptoms, preventative measures, and the necessity of obtaining a Yellow Card.

What is a Yellow Card?

The Yellow Card is an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) that serves as proof of your vaccinations. It’s issued by the World Health Organization and is available to all international travelers. The card includes important information such as vaccinations, travel dates, and other relevant medical history. Getting a Yellow Card is strongly recommended before heading to any destination that requires yellow fever vaccination.

Additionally, they include the manufacturer & batch number of the vaccine and an official stamp from the registered administration center. They must include basic information about the cardholder, such as their name and passport number. You may wonder whether you need a yellow card when traveling. Some countries do not allow travelers without a yellow card. For example, citizens of Nigeria must have an e-Yellow card to travel abroad.

What is Yellow Fever?

Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the yellow fever virus. It’s found in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and South America, specific countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Congo, Angola, and Ghana.

The most common symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle pain (myalgia), nausea, vomiting and fatigue. In severe cases, yellow fever can lead to jaundice, kidney failure, and even death.

What’s the deal with yellow?

Yellow Fever Vaccination is the most common vaccination requirement for travelers, hence, ICVP gave it a yellow color and named it YELLOW CARD. There is a 10-year validity period for the Yellow Fever vaccine, which must be taken at least 10 days before travel. Normally, a single dose is sufficient but for traveling to certain countries of Africa and South America the booster shot every 10 years is a must. Some countries like Australia and Bahamas need proof of yellow fever vaccine if the traveler is from the risk countries or transited for more than 12 hours through an airport of the endemic areas. Yellow Fever vaccination is a MUST to arrive in African and Latin American countries like Angola, Burundi, Congo, French Guiana, Mali and Togo.

Before issuing you a travel insurance policy, some travel insurance companies require a copy of your yellow card if you intend to travel to a country requiring mandatory vaccinations.

Yellow Fever Vaccination is discussed frequently in forums on Tripadvisor. Check them out for the latest information.


  • Angola
  • Burundi
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic 
  • Chad
  • Congo
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • French Guiana
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Liberia
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Sudan
  • Togo
  • Uganda

Other important vaccines

POLIO is another important vaccination for travelers. Polio is a viral disease that transmits through contaminated water or food or contact with an infected person. Based on WHO recommendations, residents or visitors who have stayed for more than 4 weeks in polio-endemic countries and re-established transmission countries like Syria, Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia; it is mandatory to have a record of a booster dose of Polio vaccine between 4 weeks to 12 months, before departure from the country.

Meningococcal Meningitis, bacteria spreading through sharing respiratory or throat secretions; is a serious infection. Countries like Bosnia, Gambia, Libya and Saudi Arabia also require vaccination for Meningococcal Meningitis. This vaccine is valid if its administration date has not exceeded 3 years.

Pilgrimages visiting Mecca for Hajj require all these vaccines administered within a valid period before applying for visas for Saudi Arabia.

COVID-19 vaccination certificate is now a primary requirement and a new norm for traveling across the globe.

In Summary

Vaccines are a critical part of international travel preparation and can help protect travelers from serious diseases that may be spread throughout the country they plan to visit. Vaccinations not only serve as a preventative measure, but they can also help to reduce the spread of infection within a population. The Yellow Card is necessary proof to enter certain countries, so make sure you get the vaccinations and card before departing. And don’t forget to check the latest vaccination recommendations from WHO and stay updated before planning your next international trip.


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