For most international travel, you will need to provide proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test, or proof that you have recovered from the virus in order to cross borders.
With many travelers and airlines looking for an easy way to store this information digitally, the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass health information verification service is being rolled out by more and more people. more airlines, just like its competitors like CommonPass and VeriFLY. They are not vaccination passports, so what are they, how do they work, who is behind them and should you be using them?
What is the IATA Travel Pass?
The IATA Travel Pass is one of many “health certificate” services that some airlines use to help them verify the validity of the proof you send them of your COVID-19 status, whether it is your vaccination, recent test, illness, or a combination of all three.
It is basically an app on your phone where you take pictures of your vaccination records, a recent test, or proof that you have recovered from COVID-19 within a certain time period specified by the government of the United States. where you are going (and sometimes from). These are then verified and your airline is given a green light or a red light to allow you to travel, depending on the travel rules of the government of your destination country.
Dozens of airlines are experimenting with or using it (along with passes from other providers) to help them process your documentation, ideally well in advance of your arrival at the airport. This helps them reduce the queues and the cost of staff checking your documents.
This is different from national or regional health card wallets, like the TousAntiCovid in France, the Excelsior Pass in New York or the NHS COVID Pass in the United Kingdom. However, in the future, there may be links between them.
Other passes exist, with CommonPass and VeriFLY also relatively widely used. Keep in mind that airlines may test multiple pass options on different routes, so check all emails carefully and check their website to confirm which ones you can use.
How do they work?
You take photos of your documentation or upload an existing image, depending on the functionality of the different applications. This is then processed by the staff of the application provider – whether it’s the IATA Travel Pass, CommonPass, VeriFLY or otherwise – who confirm whether your documentation is valid.
It can be a bit of a hassle to have to take a picture of the vaccination card or daily test result which is in an app on your phone along with another app on your phone. Keeping hard copies of your vaccination certificates and test results can be very helpful, but in a pinch, you can always find a friend to send them to and then take a photo from their phone.
Once the treatment is complete, which usually only takes a few minutes or hours, you basically get a green light indicating that you are ready to go, or a red light which means you cannot travel until you have solved a problem.
This may be because: you have been vaccinated with a vaccine not recognized in your destination; you sent the wrong type of test (antigen not PCR, say); your test was not taken recently enough (it may have been taken 49 hours before your departure, but your destination requires it to be less than 48 hours); or simply that they could not read your documents.
Keep an eye out for this: Getting another vaccination isn’t exactly a fixable problem, but getting another test might not be the end of the world.
Who manages these passes?
The IATA Travel Pass is managed by an airline industry group, the International Air Transport Association, which is like a Better Business Bureau for airlines. Remember that IATA is not a governmental or intergovernmental body, it is an association of airlines.
CommonPass is run by a public not-for-profit trust with links to the World Economic Forum (sometimes called Davos, after its annual meeting location) and the Rockefeller Foundation. VeriFLY, meanwhile, is a product of biometric authentication software company Daon. Airlines basically outsource verification to these apps, but in some cases airlines require you to download relevant information directly to them.
Where will I use a ticket, is it compulsory and should I use it?
More and more airlines are using them, so you’ll likely see them the next time you take an international flight.
Right now, they’re usually not fully required, but you can expect to receive several emails encouraging you to use them. You may also start to see accelerated queues for people who took the time to enter their data. After all, it will take less time for an expert in these processes to check your documents remotely a day in advance than for a stressed registrar to try to find out whether your vaccination certificate is valid or not.
So should we use it? Well, if you have any privacy concerns, these seem to be valid – this technology was developed quite quickly, and it’s worth reading the privacy policies of the app if you have any concerns.