UK and EU Covid-19 certificates now recognised by Iata: what it means for travellers

The digital documents can be uploaded as verified proof of vaccination for travel on the Covid health app

Travellers vaccinated in the UK or Europe can now verify their Covid-19 certificates via the International Air Transport Association (Iata)’s Travel Pass.

Iata is accepting EU Digital Covid Certificates and UK's NHS Covid Passes as proof of vaccination. This means that travellers with these immunisation certificates can now create an electronic version of their passport on the Iata Travel Pass app.

The Iata app is used to share traveller information with airlines and border control authorities, and to guarantee the validity of each certificate.

Passengers using the Travel Pass can also verify that they are cleared to fly before departing for the airport.

How does the Iata travel pass work?

The app is designed to speed up journeys by cutting down waiting times at check-in desks and boarding gates at airports around the world. It achieves this by digitising existing paper-based processes for test and vaccine certificates.

“Covid-19 vaccination certificates are becoming a widespread requirement for international travel. Handling the European and UK certificates throughIata Travel Pass is an important step forward, providing convenience for travellers, authenticity for governments and efficiency for airlines,” said Nick Careen, Iata's senior vice president for operations safety and security.

Why is a global digital vaccine certificate needed?

The World Health Organisation has yet to develop a global digital vaccine standard, something that Iata believes would make travel easier and help the industry to rebound.

“The absence of a global standard makes it much harder for airlines, border authorities and governments to recognise and verify a traveller’s digital vaccination certificate. The industry is working around this by developing solutions that can recognise and verify certificates from individual countries. But this is a slow process that is hampering the restart of international travel," said Careen.

“As more states roll out their vaccination programmes, many are urgently looking to implement technical solutions to provide vaccine certification for their citizens when they travel. In the absence of a WHO standard, Iata urges them to look closely at the EU Digital Covid Certificate as a proven solution that meets WHO guidance and can help to reconnect the world."

Since June, Covid-19 testing labs around the world have been able to register themselves as eligible testing sites for travellers using the Iata Travel Pass.

Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi using Iata Travel Pass

Last week, Iata announced that Saudi Arabia would begin using the Iata Travel Pass. From Thursday, September 30, the app will be available for travellers flying to or from the kingdom to verify Covid-19 test results.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia also plans to expand the use of the app to include vaccine certification.

In the UAE, both Emirates and Etihad are using the app. The national airline of the UAE uses the pass for travellers flying to seven destinations across its network in Europe, North America and South-East Asia.

Emirates already uses the pass on several routes, and has plans to roll it out to all destinations on its network within the next month, a representative for the Dubai airline told The National.

Iata's Travel Pass is not the only app in existence, several similar solutions are also being trialled as the travel industry rallies to recover from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Without a global standard for vaccine certificates, travellers are likely to continue to face problems when attempting to verify their vaccination status when entering or departing destinations.

Updated: August 22nd 2021, 12:35 PM
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