Fitness To Fly Certificate And COVID- 19 Immunity Passport By Adeniyi Bukola


A fit to fly letter is a medical certificate written by a doctor that confirms your fitness to fly. Doctors can verify if you can travel safely by reviewing your symptoms, medical history, and examination if necessary.

When do I need a fitness to fly certificate?

Aircraft cabin pressure is like that on a 5000 feet mountain. This causes less oxygen in your blood which may cause a problem if you have heart, lung disease or severe anemia. This can also be a problem if you have a recent chest, heart, abdominal or eye surgery.

Other conditions like advanced pregnancy, Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), recent heart attack, infections or stomach bleed can also increase health risk from flying. Majority of the health emergencies that occur during flight that result in death, flight diversion or emergency landing are due to health conditions that are not stabilised before the flight and that the airlines are not made aware of.  These can be minimised by visiting your general practitioner or Travel Physician before your trip especially if you have any of these conditions.

What medical conditions can stop you from flying?

 Infectious diseases like the current COVID 19, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Strokes, DVT, Decompensated heart failure, recent surgery, Pregnancy, recent Myocardial infarction (heart attack), unstable Psychiatric disorders and many others.

In pregnancy, you will not be allowed to fly after 36 weeks for singleton pregnancy and 32 weeks for multiple pregnancies even if you are carrying a fitness to fly certificate. This is to prevent you from falling into labour while airborne.

When will the certificate to fly expire?

Your fit to fly certificate shows you are fit and able to fly around the time of your flight. It may not be accepted if given weeks or months away from the time of your travel. With the current COVID 19 pandemic, some airlines and countries may specify how recent the certificate must be. If your health condition is long-term, you may need a new health certificate each time you fly.

What is a COVID 19 Passport?

It is an immunity passport that is based on the idea that there could potentially be a document that shows “proof-of-immunity” towards the novel coronavirus (COVID 19). The talk of issuing an immunity passport has come up within the European Union to mitigate the catastrophic effects of the virus on the economy. It is assumed that those who have been infected with COVID 19 virus and have recovered have immunity to the virus and will not infect others or be re-infected. This will enable those with the passport to have normal life and could potentially allow for reduction of travel restrictions for those with it.

Can I get an immunity passport for COVID 19?

Currently, there is no immunity passport for COVID 19. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that there is no evidence that people who have had the virus are protected against a second infection. Hence, issuing an immunity passport can create the health risk as it may appear that people are protected when they are not.

Do I need a fit to fly certificate because of COVID 19?

A fit to fly certificate will show you are fit with no symptoms of COVID 19 though the actual COVID 19 testing might not be done. It will show that you have a low risk of spreading the virus to other people in the country you are traveling to. The coronavirus pandemic has led many counties to put restrictions on travel to stop the spread of the infection. The need for the certificate will depend on the airline and destination country policies.

What countries require a fit to travel certificate?

The response to the coronavirus outbreak varies from country to country. Some countries and airlines now request a fit to fly certificate before travel. For example, people travelling from Nigeria to South Korea, were requested (as at May 2020) to present a medical certificate of fitness to fly before they can travel to South Korea.

 Other countries that request a health certificate when travelling from countries affected by coronavirus include: Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Cyprus, French Polynesia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Kosovo, Macao, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines and some other countries. The list of countries is constantly being reviewed. You should therefore keep abreast of information from the airline you are traveling with and visit your destination country travel advisory.

 How do I get a fit to fly certificate?

The certificate can be obtained at the Travel clinic after being assessed by the doctor and is usually obtained immediately. Visit should be made close to your travel.

Adeniyi Bukola

Adeniyi Bukola, Consultant Family Physician and Travel Medicine Physician

Q –Life Family Clinic

Fitness To Fly Certificate And COVID- 19 Immunity Passport By Adeniyi Bukola
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