The International Air Transport Association has announced it is in the final development phase of a digital health pass that will support the safe reopening of borders.  

Governments are beginning to use testing as a means of limiting the risks of COVID-19 importation when re-opening their borders to travellers without quarantine measures. The new IATA Travel Pass aims to manage and verify the secure flow of necessary testing or vaccine information among governments, airlines, laboratories and travellers. 

IATA is calling for systematic COVID-19 testing of all international travellers and the information flow infrastructure needed to enable this must support: 

  • Governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates. 
  • Airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel. 
  • Laboratories with the means to issue digital certificates to passengers that will be recognized by governments, and; 
  • Travellers with accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey test information to airlines and border authorities.  

IATA and International Airlines Group have been working together in the development of a new solution, and are due shortly to undertake a trial to demonstrate that this platform, combined with COVID-19 testing can reopen international travel and replace quarantine.  

Alexandre de Juniac

“Today, borders are double locked”, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of IATA Travel Pass. We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation.” 

IATA Travel Pass incorporates four open-sourced and interoperable modules which can be combined for an end-to-end solution: 

  • Global registry of health requirements – enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey. 
  • Global registry of testing / vaccination centers – enables passengers to find testing centers and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.  
  • Lab App – enables authorized labs and test centers to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers. 
  • Contactless Travel App – enables passengers to (1) create a ‘digital passport’, (2) receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and (3) share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. This app can also be used by travelers to manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout their journey, improving travel experience. 

IATA Travel Pass is based on industry standards and IATA’s experience in managing information flows around complex travel requirements.  

“Our main priority is to get people traveling again safely” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security. “In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements. And that will eventually develop into a vaccine program. The IATA Travel Pass is a solution for both. And we have built it using a modular approach based on open source standards to facilitate interoperability. It can be used in combination with other providers or as a standalone end-to-end solution. The most important thing is that it is responsive to industry’s needs while enabling a competitive market.” 

PHOTO – TOP OF PAGE – copyright 2020 British Airways

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