Navigating "Travel Cayman"
As of November 20, 2021, tourists may return to the Cayman Islands, however there is a catch in that our borders are not open as they were pre-covid. Technically the Cayman Islands are in Phase 4 of our border reopening plan, which means you must have approval from the new Government entity called Travel Cayman.
Many customers are excited to return, but there's quite a bit of confusion and some delays when it comes to getting the approval from Travel Cayman. The biggest issues we are hearing from our customers are that:
The process is taking a very long time
They have not heard anything back from Travel Cayman
They cannot find their flights on Travel Cayman
Their vaccine record cannot be uploaded
The application process summarized
Here's the very simplified process to book travel to the Cayman Islands:
Get copies of your vaccine record(s.)
Book your flights to Cayman.
Apply to Travel Cayman for each member of your party.
Submit your vaccine record for each member of your party.
Receive your "Travel Certificate" from Travel Cayman, which is needed to board the plane, and enter the Cayman Islands.
This sounds pretty easy, and for some the process takes 5 minutes from the start of the application, to receiving your travel certificate. For others it takes quite a long time. What's the variable?
Travel Declarations vs Travel Requests
It is important to understand there are 2 paths to getting your travel certificate, and here's where it can get a bit confusing. Those with a securely verifiable vaccine record can submit a Travel Declaration. In the application process you answer some questions, then there is an area where you can submit your securely verifiable vaccine record. This is verified by the system electronically, and approved almost instantly. Then you are issued a copy of your travel certificate for printing. A Travel Declaration give you a travel window of 3 months where you may arrive to the Cayman Islands, and is not flight specific.
If your vaccine is not securely verifiable then you must submit a Travel Request. This requires manual approval of your application from the staff at Travel Cayman. . We are told that currently there is a massive backlog on this process. After a period of time, you are emailed a copy of your travel certificate for printing. Travel applicants understandably get very nervous during the pending approval process. In addition, you must submit the exact flight you will be taking to the Cayman Islands with your application, you do not receive a 3 month window like you do with a Travel Declaration.
What does it mean to have your vaccine securely verifiable?
To mitigate fraudulent vaccine records, your vaccine must be able to verified electronically. This means your vaccine record will have a QR code that can be scanned by the person or entity seeking verification - in this case Travel Cayman.
Just because you didn't get a QR code when you received your jab doesn't mean it's not verifiable. In fact, I'm pretty sure no one gets a QR code at the time of the vaccine, it requires you to complete some sort of registration process after the fact, and as a result many don't even know their vaccine can be verified.
Vaccines are verified through what's known as the Common Trust Network, and there are hundreds of participants in this. Every province in Canada, along with the US states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Virginia and Washington are part of Common Trust.
However, it's not just Government entities in Common Trust. Various pharmacies and other healthcare providers also participate including places like CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid, American Medical Center, and dozens of others.
But wait, there's more! If your vaccine was issued by a medical facility that uses the MyChart (Epic) system or the Cerner HealtheLife app, your vaccine can be verified as well. As of this writing, there are 347 healthcare provider networks using this. Lastly, more states, pharmacies, and health systems will begin issuing SMART Health Cards very soon. So chances are good, your vaccine can in fact be verified.
The current list, along with instructions on how to obtain your QR code can be found here: https://www.commontrustnetwork.org/verifier-list
If you do get your vaccine verified, take the time to add this to your Apple Wallet if an iPhone user, or your Google Wallet if you are an Android user. You'll thank me later for the convenience of this.
Selecting your flights on Travel Cayman
For Travel Request applicants only, this is the second biggest hurdle customers encounter. For non-residents, you must enter the flight you are taking to the islands.
Flights are listed on Travel Cayman only 30 days out. Meaning if your flight is February 3, you're not going to find the flight on the Travel Cayman site until January 3.
Problems uploading your securely verifiable vaccine record
We've had a few people encounter an issue trying to actually upload their vaccine record to the site, myself included.
When you reach the step of the application where it asks you to upload your vaccine record with the QR code, you're presented 2 options. One is to use your computer's webcam and hold the QR code up to it. The second is to upload an image or document file that contains the QR code.
When I tried to use the camera to read my QR code, it flat out refused to work. I could see an image of myself holding the QR code at all sorts of distances and orientations, but nothing seemed to work. However I was able to screenshot the QR code on my phone, and then upload that as an image file via my web browser, and this worked fine.
Some customers had issues getting their QR code image file to be recognized after they uploaded it. After some quick troubleshooting, the culprit turned out to be blurry or dimly lit photos of their paper or electronic records. A QR code consists of black squares arranged in a square grid on a white background, and if there is blur in this image, the computer attempting to read the QR code will not be able to discern a white square from a black one. Make sure the QR code you are attempting to upload is a good sharp image file, preferably downloaded directly from the issuer.
If you have any questions, or encounter any issues not discussed here, please send us an email so we can add them to this document.
Good luck! We can't wait to see you back with us.