The International Air Transport Association has developed a new mobile application, the IATA Travel Pass app, in order to provide governments across the globe with accurate data about the COVID-19 health status of arriving passengers and allow for coronavirus travel requirements to be more easily met.
This complete guide to the IATA Travel Pass mobile application outlines the ways in which this new digital platform helps inform users of current coronavirus testing and vaccine requirements to enter a foreign country and share their certificates and results with governments and airlines alike in a safe and secure manner.
What Is the IATA Travel Pass?
The IATA Travel Pass is a secure and efficient application for mobile devices that allows travelers to electronically store and manage COVID-19 test and vaccine medical certificates, removing the need to handle paper documents needed to meet coronavirus travel requirements.
In addition to allowing travelers to securely store verified proof of testing and vaccine against COVID-19 required to gain entry to foreign countries during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the IATA Travel Pass mobile application will also allow governments to effectively manage the amount of data associated with testing and vaccination on such a large scale.
How Does the IATA Travel Pass App Work?
The IATA Travel Pass app allows travelers to meet the COVID-19 testing and vaccine requirements of governments around the world as it:
- Provides a global registry of health requirements and accurate and up-to-date coronavirus entry restrictions for travelers
- Lists testing and vaccination centers worldwide and allows users to find authorized testing centers and labs compatible with the mandatory requirements for their destination
- Acts as a Contactless Travel App by permitting users to create a ‘digital passport’, receive verified test and vaccination certificates, and share these with airlines and authorities.
To create a ‘digital passport’ using the app, travelers are simply required to:
- Download the IATA Travel Pass on their mobile device and log in
- Take a photograph of themselves using the same device
- Take an image of two lines at the bottom of the biographical page of their passport document
- Scan the passport chip using the app.
With this information, the IATA Travel Pass app verifies that the passport belongs to the same individual who appears in the photograph and that the passport itself is genuine. This certified digital credential is then stored on the traveler’s phone ready to be used as a ‘digital passport’ to facilitate travel.
How IATA’s App Could Help to Reopen International Travel
The aim of the IATA Travel Pass app is to give governments worldwide the confidence to reopen their borders without the risk of continuing the spread of COVID-19 and remove quarantine requirements for travelers by providing easy access to testing and vaccine information.
It also allows this information to be securely shared between laboratories, travelers and airlines, and gives governments confidence that a passenger’s COVID-19 status is negative.
Vinoop Goel, IATA regional director of airports and external relations, has also said that that app will help prevent the use of fraudulent test and vaccination certificates, asserting that “ If you look at the paper certificates that are being used today, it’s almost impossible to tell if it’s fake or not without going through a lengthy and almost impossible verification process”.
By moving the paper certificates to a digital platform, they can be less easily manipulated and immigration authorities will be able to spend less time on determining the authenticity of non-standard test and vaccine documents and reduce health check inefficiencies, errors, and fraud.
At present, numerous international air carriers, including Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Copa Airlines, and Air New Zealand have agreed to trial the travel Pass on their flights, and IATA has expressed confidence that governments around the world will adopt the system once the benefits become clear.
“Governments should make sure that their regulations are essentially not inhibiting the rollout of the Travel Pass”, Goel said. He also asserted that the association is working to ensure that authorities do not make inconvenient paper certificates mandatory. “We do hope it will become the global framework and standard”, he added.
IATA Travel Pass vs Other Apps
The IATA Travel Pass is unique among its competitors such as the CommonPass because it updates and modernizes the existing paper documentation system for providing proof of vaccination that the International Air Transport Association has cultivated over decades for yellow fever vaccine requirements under International Health Regulations.
The digitization of this process and modernization to conform with the requirements of the current epidemiological situation makes the app a convenient way for users to meet government entry requirements and quickly adapt to any changes in restrictions that may arise at short notice.
As the IATA already manages masses of volumes of coronavirus health requirements through its online Timatic system, the Travel Pass app is a natural progression in its aim to aid both airlines and governments to facilitate travel during the pandemic.
IATA is also fully committed to ensuring that the privacy of users of the app is fully protected and that the integrity of their personal data is maintained. None of the data provided by users is stored centrally, and only provides the information to be shared with airlines and governments with the permission of the traveler.
Other Questions Related to the IATA Travel Pass
Do passengers need to pay for the app?
No, IATA has announced that the Travel Pass mobile application will be free of charge for passengers to download.
How does IATA approve laboratories which provide testing?
IATA does not approve labs, rather it accurately registers labs and test centers that meet the necessary criteria approved by governments around the world.
When will the IATA app be available?
The IATA was first tested in cross-border pilot schemes at the end of 2020 and the full launch of the app for iOS and Android systems is expected by the end of March 2021, in order to be fully operational by the time that governments reopen their border to international travelers.
Will IATA make a coronavirus vaccine certificate a mandatory travel requirement?
No, IATA does not determine coronavirus entry restrictions for travelers. The Travel Pass simply facilities the ease with which travelers are able to meet the requirements set by foreign governments.