To re-open borders without quarantine and restart aviation governments need to be confident that they are effectively mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19. This means having accurate information on passengers’ COVID-19 health status.
Informing passengers on what tests, vaccines and other measures they require prior to travel, details on where they can get tested and giving them the ability to share their tests and vaccination results in a verifiable, safe and privacy-protecting manner is the key to giving governments the confidence to open borders.
To address this challenge IATA has launched IATA Travel Pass.
Q. What is IATA Travel Pass?
IATA Travel Pass is a mobile application that helps travelers to store and manage their verified certifications for COVID-19 tests or COVID-19 vaccinations. This will be important for governments which are likely to require either verified testing or vaccination proof as a condition of international travel during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The IATA Travel Pass will be more secure and efficient than current paper processes used to manage health requirements (the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, for example). This will be important given the potentially enormous scale of testing or vaccine verifications that will need to be securely managed.
Q. How does IATA Travel Pass work?
IATA Travel Pass will help people to travel with ease while meeting any government requirements for COVID-19 tests or vaccinations. The IATA Travel Pass has four open and interoperable modules which together create the end-to-end solution. IATA Travel Pass incorporates:
1. Global registry of health requirements – enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing and vaccination requirements for their journey.
2. 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.
3. Lab App – enables authorized labs and test centers to securely share certified test and vaccination certificates with passengers.
4. 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 test or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. This app can also be used by travelers to digitally manage their travel documentation throughout their journey for a seamless travel experience.
Q. Why did IATA decide to develop IATA Travel Pass?
IATA Travel Pass modernizes an existing system. For decades we have had a paper documentation system for providing proof of vaccination. The most well-known is the requirement of many governments for a yellowfever vaccination depending on your travel history and travel destination. Under the International Health Regulations, this is managed by the “yellow book” or International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis.
The IATA Travel Pass moves this type of medical information to a digital platform and joins it with up-to-date information on entry requirements. This makes the process more convenient for travelers and helps avoid fraudulent documentation. This digitalization will be crucial as government entry requirements are expected to evolve with the epidemiological situation. An electronic process will be better able to manage the volume of
data that is likely to be required and it will help passengers to update changes in government requirements more easily. Importantly, there will be paper-based alternatives for people who do not have mobile phones, albeit less convenient ones. IATA is already managing health requirements through its Timatic solution, so IATA Travel Pass is a natural evolution to support the industry during the pandemic.
Q. How will IATA Travel Pass help the reopening of international travel?
IATA Travel Pass will help give governments the confidence to reopen borders without quarantine. To reopen borders without quarantine, governments need to be confident that they are mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19. Testing, or proof of vaccine, is the solution. IATA Travel Pass will manage and verify the secure flow of testing or vaccination information between governments, airlines, laboratories and travelers which will guarantee the traveler’s COVID-19 status.
Q: It appears that each traveler must have a smartphone, so how do you handle families who may not have a smartphone each, or individuals who do not use a smartphone?
There will be paper-based alternatives for people who do not have mobile phones. And for families, we have formed an industry working group to explore how we can make the process as seamless and efficient as possible.
Q. Is IATA mandating that passengers have a COVID-19 vaccine to travel?
No. Governments decide the requirements to travel; airlines and passengers need to comply. In normal times there are visa and vaccination requirements in many countries. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic governments have imposed additional restrictions: quarantine measures, testing requirements and eventually
vaccination requirements. IATA Travel Pass is a tool for use by governments, travelers, airlines, and test centers/vaccination providers to get verified information to those who need it in a safe and secure manner.
Questions on Timelines & Trials
Q. When will IATA launch IATA Travel Pass?
On the 15th April, IATA Travel Pass was launched on the Apple App store. It is available for download for passengers traveling on airlines trialing the app with an access code provided to them by the airline. The app will be launched on the Google Play store in mid-May. To be ready for when governments re-open borders, we
are working as fast as we can with our member airlines to bring this to market.
Download of IATA Travel Pass app
The IATA Travel Pass app is now available for download on the Apple Store and Google Play but travelers will not be able to use it unless their airline is part of a trial. If your airline is participating in one of these trials, they can provide you with instructions on how to use IATA Travel Pass.
Q. Why do I need a code to download IATA Travel Pass and where can I get it?
To use IATA Travel Pass a passenger must be traveling on an airline that is trialing or using the app. If this is the case the airline will send the passenger a code to download.
Q. How many airlines are expected to take part?
We expect the IATA Travel Pass to be popular with airlines because it is being built with deep knowledge of their operational requirements and the needs of their customers in mind.
There are other solution providers in the market. The IATA Travel pass is being built with four modules (entry requirement registry, test center registry, certification holder, and digital identity). They can be used together as a whole solution or in combination with other solutions. We want it to be as flexible as possible.
Q: How many airlines have committed to trialing IATA Travel Pass?
As of 26th April, close to 50 airlines have signed up to trial IATA Travel Pass, with 30 airlines publicly announcing their decision.
Q. How many live trials have taken place or are in progress?
Singapore Airlines conducted the first full pilot of IATA Travel Pass on the 15th March. This was followed by Qatar Airlines on the 17th March. Live pilots are currently ongoing with Air Baltic, Air New Zealand, Air Serbia, Emirates, Etihad, Ethiopian Airlines, Iberia, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Saudia, Swiss and Virgin Atlantic.
Questions on Privacy
Q: How will IATA ensure the integrity of personal data?
Travelers always remain in control of their data with their privacy protected. The IATA Travel Pass does not store any data centrally. It simply links entities that need verification (airlines and governments) with the test or vaccination data when travelers permit. This last point is key. No verification will go to an airline or a government without the authorization of the traveler.
Q: How will the various stakeholders needing access to the testing and vaccine data be able to access it, i.e., airlines, immigration, airports, etc.?
Verified certificates for COVID-19 tests or vaccinations will be stored on the traveler’s phone. When needed, the traveler will be prompted to release their certificates to authorities and other stakeholders. If the passenger chooses to do so the data is sent by them from their phones directly to the other entity. Travelers
always remain in control of their data with their privacy protected.
Questions on other providers
Q: How does IATA Travel Pass differ from other solutions?
There are several solutions that are at various stages of readiness. We cannot speak for them. But we are building IATA Travel Pass in modules using open standards so that it can work with other solutions that are being developed. We are building the IATA Travel Pass this way because we believe that a competitive market is important.
IATA also brings unique experience to this endeavor in four key areas:
• Managing entry requirements: IATA has long been the trusted source for entry requirements. The Travel Pass will use the expertise of Timatic, which helped airlines to ensure that the travel documentation of 700 million travelers met government entry requirements in 2019.
• Digital identity: IATA has been working on digital identification technologies for some time. The Contactless Travel App already exists for this purpose. With a few modifications it is well-suited to help travelers manage digital test or vaccination certificates.
• Accreditation: IATA has accredited travel and cargo agents worldwide for decades as part of its trusted global financial settlement capabilities. This experience will prove valuable in accrediting labs and test centers.
• Standard setting: Standards are developed and adopted under the IATA Conference structure. Through its advocacy and standard activities, IATA has earned trust as a partner for governments, industry, and international institutions, which lends credibility to the IATA Travel Pass endeavor and any other competing apps that use the same trusted IATA standards.
Q: Is IATA Travel Pass in direct competition with other solutions?
We believe that there should be competitive market for solutions to manage health credentials. We are building a product that can stand on its own. But it is being built in modules, so that other solutions can use parts of the IATA Travel Pass in their offering. Our aim is for airlines and their passengers to have choice.
Questions on Costs
Q. Do passengers need to pay for IATA Travel Pass?
No, IATA Travel Pass will be free for passengers to download and use.
Q. How much will airlines have to pay to use IATA Travel Pass?
We aim to make this solution as low cost for airlines as possible while ensuring that the solution is robust. Final pricing has yet to be determined.
Q: How much has IATA Travel Pass cost to develop?
This is still a work in progress. There are some cost-efficiencies as the IATA Travel Pass relies on some existing IATA solutions like the IATA Contactless Travel App and Timatic. We do not, however, intend to disclose the development cost.
Q. Does IATA support initiatives such as the Good Health Pass Initiative?
We welcome technology providers to develop open standards like Verifiable Credentials and Decentralized Identifiers that offer an opportunity to meet the many challenges of today’s digital world.
However, we believe the optimal approach is to work with the institutions who develop these standards directly such as ICAO, which is responsible for developing global standards for aviation and WHO, which is responsible for health accreditation standards such as vaccine certificates.
Questions on Lab verification
Q: How will IATA approve the labs which will provide testing?
Governments will need to decide the criteria for labs and test centers. IATA will not approve labs. Our job is to accurately register them. IATA will leverage the expertise we have in approving travel agencies and cargo providers. There is a vast number of labs across the globe. We are working with partners who can help us with their expertise and reach to ensure that, through the IATA Travel Pass, travelers will have the most accurate and up-to-date information on accredited labs as possible.
Q: How many labs may have to be verified?
This is likely to be a considerable number. We are working with airlines and partners who can help us with their expertise and reach to help us ensure that, through the IATA Travel Pass, travelers will have the most accurate and up-to-date information on accredited labs as possible.
Q: How do we verify that a test result or vaccination is not fraudulent?
IATA does not verify the test or vaccine results. We provide the means for registered labs to send test results and vaccine details to travelers in a secure manner whereby the details can be verified to guarantee authenticity of origin and integrity of the content. The IATA Travel Pass ensures that this transaction is secure and matches the identity of the traveler with the identity of the person taking the test/vaccination.
COVID-19 test results and vaccination details are sent from the registered laboratory to the passenger’s phone as a verifiable credential. As such it is not possible for the passenger to tamper with this data. There are also checks put in place to ensure the passenger’s identity to avoid transferring test results to a new person.
Q. When are we expecting the Lab Registry to be available?
Discussions are progressing to identify key partners and to on-board them. The plan is to gradually build up the lab network by first addressing the requirements for the pilots and then building a wider base.
Q: How will customers be able to find out which Labs are relevant for them?
A search feature will be made available on the Contactless Travel App.
Questions on Digital Identity
Q. How does the IATA Contactless Travel App module work?
The IATA Contactless Travel App is a module of the IATA Travel Pass. It 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.
Q. How do passengers create a ‘digital version of their passport’ using the Contactless Travel App?
To create a digital identity a passenger will need to follow these steps:
1. Download the free IATA Travel Pass to their Smartphone
2. Log in
3. Take a selfie with their Smartphone
4. Complete a ‘liveness test’ as instructed by the phone – i.e., move their head, close their eyes in front of the camera as instructed
5. Take a scan of the data on the two lines at the bottom of the passport photo page with their Smartphones.
6. Scan the data-chip on the passport as prompted by the phone
7. The IATA Travel Pass then verifies that:
i. the passport belongs to the person in front of the phone
ii. that the passport is genuine and has not been tampered with
8. The verified digital credential is then stored on the passenger’s phone and can be used as their ‘digital passport’
Q. How are my passport details used?
The IATA Contactless Travel App will enable passengers to create a digital version of their passport on their phone. The passenger can then choose to securely send their passport details to airlines, airports and border control. This will ensure that document and identity verification can be performed off-airport, and facial
recognition can be used to swiftly process passengers at key touch points at the airport without the need to physically exchange passports and boarding passes.
Q. Is contactless travel possible with the Contactless Travel App?
Yes, the Contactless Travel App will allow passengers to –
1. Create a digital identity by scanning their passports with their Smartphones. The scan is then stored on their phone and can be used as their ‘digital passport’
2. Choose to share their digital identity including their digital photo directly with airline, airport, and border control partners
3. Experience contactless travel at the airport by using facial recognition to link them to their digital passport. Their face becomes their passport and boarding passport.
Q. Can IATA Contactless Travel App element be used for contactless travel only?
Yes, each module of the IATA Travel Pass can be used individually or as a full end-to-end solution.
Questions on vaccinations
Q. Is IATA Travel Pass a vaccination passport
No, IATA Travel Pass is a health app for passengers to manage both COVID-19 testing and vaccination certificates for travel.
Q. Will those not vaccinated (for whatever reason) be banned from traveling?
Governments, not airlines and not IATA, make the rules on entry requirements for travelers. Airlines and passengers need to comply. Governments will also decide if vaccinations will be mandatory or voluntary for their populations. If governments make vaccinations a requirement for travel, airlines will comply, and the IATA Travel Pass will help them.
Q. Is IATA mandating that passengers have a COVID-19 vaccine to travel?
No, governments decide the requirements to travel; airlines and passengers need to comply.
IATA believes that the freedom to travel across borders should not be limited to only those who are able to be vaccinated. It does, however, support governments opening borders to those who have been vaccinated and that testing should also play a key role where vaccination is not possible. Together, testing and vaccination are key measures for states to safely reopen their borders and restore freedom of movement while managing the
public health risks of COVID-19.
Q. Why is IATA planning to force additional restrictions on passengers when at the same time it declares on its homepage that there is an extremely low risk of viral transmission inflight?
The risk of transmission on-board is low.
Government requirements for vaccinations or tests are expected to be implemented as a border control measure (international and in some cases also across domestic borders). This is to control the spread or importation of COVID-19 by the movement of travelers.
For this, governments may require verified evidence that the person has been tested or vaccinated. IATA Travel Pass enables that verification.
Q: There are many other types of communicable diseases, such as measles, mumps, ebola, HIV etc. How many of the above will be included?
Timatic is updated with health requirements for many diseases including some of the above when there is a regulatory requirement. When the Ebola crisis surfaced Timatic played a critical role in some parts of the world.
The current scope of IATA Travel Pass is limited to COVID-19 as this is only disease which governments limit access to their country apart from Yellow Fever. It could be expanded if the situation requires it.
Q. Are fake COVID-19 tests of concern to IATA?
Fake COVID-19 test/vaccine results are of concern and something that we are keeping an eye on. In addition to Afghanistan we are aware of some counterfeit test results in other countries around the world including Brazil, Bangladesh and France. Paper test results come in different formats and languages and can be easily manipulated. Check-in agents need to follow extensive entry requirement guidance and try to determine the authenticity of multiple nonstandard test documents that passengers present to them. This leads to health check inefficiencies, errors and
fraud – an increasing problem around the world.
The existing system of paper test and vaccine certificates needs to be modernized through digitization. IATA is developing a solution called IATA Travel Pass, a mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with government requirements for COVID-19 tests or vaccinations. The IATA Travel Pass moves existing paper processes to a digital platform.
Q. How many governments accept IATA Travel Pass?
IATA Travel Pass digitizes existing paper-based processes for test and vaccine certificates which is essential for the scalable restart of aviation. Therefore, IATA’s main priority is to encourage governments to accept digital COVID-19 test and vaccination certificates and, by extension, the IATA Travel Pass “OK to Travel” as verification for health entry requirements.
Q. How will IATA Travel Pass work with EU Green Certificate/other country digital certificates?
IATA Travel Pass complements the EU Green Certificate and other such initiatives. We expect that travelers will be able to upload the test and proof of vaccination certificates from these government initiatives into the IATA Travel Pass digital wallet and use them for international travel.
Q. What support is needed from governments to ensure that health apps are able to support the safe restart of aviation?
For health passes such as IATA Travel Pass to support the safe and scalable restart of aviation it is essential that:
o Governments accept digital COVID-19 test and vaccine certificates
o Governments issue vaccinations certificates based on WHO Smart Vaccine Certificate data standards including QR codes
o Test certificates are issued in accordance with the data elements set out by ICAO