IATA to launch digital travel pass for contactless ID and vaccination verification

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

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is to roll out a digital travel pass that will enable passengers to store verified identity documents such as their e-passport and verified Covid-19 test results or inoculation records on their iPhone or Android device.

“IATA Travel Pass is a mobile app to help travellers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for Covid-19 testing or vaccine information,” the association explains. It adds that it “will also unlock the potential for convenient contactless travel processes from check-in to boarding”.

To use the service, passengers will be able to download the IATA Travel pass to their smartphone, add a selfie and complete a ‘liveness’ test and scan data from their passport with their NFC device.

“The IATA Travel Pass then matches the photo with the passport data (which contains a digital biometric photo of the passport holder) to verify that 1) the passport belongs to the person in front of the phone and 2) that the passport is genuine and has not been tampered with,” IATA says.

“The verified digital travel credential is then stored on the passenger’s phone and can be used as their ‘digital passport/ID’.”

The pass will also support World Health Organization (WHO) digital standards for documents such as the International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis once these have been finalised.

The Travel Pass is scheduled for release early in the first quarter of 2021 and will use Apple’s Secure Enclave feature on iPhones and “a similar security encryption technology” on Android devices.

The traveller controls what information is shared from their phone with airlines and authorities. No central database or data repository is storing the information,” IATA adds.

IATA is developing the IATA Travel Pass in four independent modules that can interact with each other. These modules will cover registries for regulatory entry requirements and labs/test centers, verified certificate issuance, digital identity and the possibility for passengers to share their tests results along their journey via their mobile device. Open standards enable the modules to be used as one solution or to complement capabilities being developed by other solutions providers.

“We are building the IATA Travel Pass with one aim—to help reconnect our world safely. IATA has brought advancements in global standards like e-ticketing and mobile boarding passes to consumers in all parts of the world. This unique capability demonstrates that we can work with industry and governments to re-shape travel processes based on global standards. We are confident that we can deliver a complete solution with IATA Travel Pass. And we are building the IATA Travel Pass so that other solutions serving the same industry re-opening goal can also benefit from it. We want airlines to have a competitive marketplace with the widest range of options that meet their specific needs,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

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