The International Air Transport Association (IATA) unveiled key design elements of the IATA Travel Pass. IATA Travel Pass is a mobile app to help travelers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information.
“Testing is the immediate solution to safely re-open borders and re-connect people. And eventually this is likely to transition to vaccination requirements. In either case, a secure system to manage COVID-19 testing or vaccination information is critical. The IATA Travel Pass is a solution that both travelers and governments can trust. And it is being built with data security, convenience and verification as top priorities,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
IATA emphasized these priorities with three critical design elements:
- Putting travelers in control of their personal information for top level data security and data privacy. The IATA Travel Pass stores encrypted data including verified test or vaccination results on the mobile device of the traveler. The traveler controls what information is shared from their phone with airlines and authorities. No central database or data repository is storing the information. By keeping travelers 100% in control of their information, the highest standards for data privacy are ensured. IATA Travel Pass is also built on the highest standards of data protection laws, including General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR).
Technically, the app is being built in accordance with Self-Sovereign Identity* (SSI) principles. The IATA Travel Pass is scheduled for release early in the first quarter of 2021 for Android and for iPhone. For iPhone it will use the “Secure Enclave” features of Apple devices and a similar security encryption technology for Android.
- Global standards recognized by governments to ensure verified identity and test/vaccine information.
Verified identity: A government issued ePassport is used to verify the identity of the user. It also serves to create a digital representation of the user’s passport to allow the information to be sent electronically in a secured way that is linked to their verified identity. The key to this are global standards developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which match biometric passport data and a selfie taken by the user. This creates a Type 1 digital travel credential (a verified digital identify**) in line with ICAO standards.
b. Verified test results or vaccine information: Currently the main vaccination requirement for entry into some countries is for yellow fever. Under the International Health Regulations, this is managed by the “yellow card” or International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis. The World Health Organization (WHO) is developing digital standards that will make these vastly more secure and will dramatically reduce fraud. When ready, the IATA Travel Pass will be able to accommodate such new global standards.
Until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available to the general public, the priority is on COVID-19 testing. Laboratories have well-established safety standards for managing and verifying test results to individuals. IATA is partnering with selected and established laboratories to securely link their test results with the verified identity of the IATA Travel Pass holder.
- Convenience and biosafety will be enhanced with integration into contactless travel processes. The ICAO CART recommendations for biosafety include the use of contactless travel processes to reduce the risk of virus transmission when documents need to be exchanged in the travel process.
The industry has been developing contactless travel processes as part of a One ID transformation program for several years. The IATA Travel Pass digital identity management module uses the well-developed principles of One ID (which are, in turn, based on ICAO standards). For the passenger this means that the IATA Travel Pass will also unlock the potential for convenient contactless travel processes from check-in to boarding. As such, while the need for COVID-19 information verification may eventually disappear when we overcome the pandemic, IATA Travel Pass, however, will remain as a bold step forward in the implementation of contactless travel.
IATA research amid the COVID-19 crisis (September 2020) shows that contactless processes will be popular with travelers:
- 70% of passengers had concerns about handing over their passport, phone or boarding pass to airline agents, security staff or government officials at the airport
- 85% of travelers said that touchless processing throughout the airport would make them feel safer, and
- Already 44% of travelers said that they are willing to share personal data to enable touchless process, up significantly from 30% in June.