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The New Digital Passport Is Key To Travel During Covid-19

All you need to know about the IATA travel pass. Pack your suitcases!

As countries across the globe continue to inoculate citizens with their COVID-19 vaccine of choice, there has been recent talks over the past few weeks on a travel passport that vaccinated individuals will get, granting them easy travel to many countries. This “travel passport” is the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass, a digital platform for passengers, and has been undergoing trials by several airlines, such as Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian, Malaysia Airlines, and more.

Image via Wired

As explained on the official IATA website, in order to re-open borders without quarantine requirements, governments need to be confident that they are effectively mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19. That is where the new travel pass comes in, offering accurate information on passengers’ COVID-19 health status. The IATA Travel Pass currently displays a traveler’s COVID-19 test results through a phone app, and there plans to further develop it to include more rigorous features.

Indeed, the IATA Travel Pass has been envisioned as a standardized solution that validates and authenticates all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements. Designed to currently act as a replacement for quarantine requirements, the travel pass will incorporate four open-sourced, interoperable modules that can be combined for an end-to-end solution:

The first one is the registry of health requirements, which enables passengers to find information on travel, testing, and vaccine requirements for their journey. The second is a registry of testing or vaccination centers, which enables travelers to locate COVID-19 testing centers and labs at their departure and/or arrival location. The third is a lab app, which allows authorized labs and test centers to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers. The fourth module, which is the travel pass itself, allows travelers to create their “digital passport,” verify that their vaccination meets the regulations, and share their test or vaccination certificates with the relevant authorities in order to travel.

For now, the countries that have taken concrete steps towards utilizing the IATA Travel Pass include Singapore, which starting from May 2021 will allow passengers traveling to its borders to share pre-departure test results with airlines and immigration staff upon arrival. In addition, The National quoted a senior official at Emirates Airline this week, who explained that there are plans to begin trials of the travel pass at Dubai International Airport “within days.” 

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