IATA has integrated the acceptance of digital vaccine certificates issued by the UK and EU into its IATA Travel Pass application. The new feature will make it easier for passengers to prove their vaccination status when traveling in the post-COVID era.

IATA Travel Pass now accepts digital vaccine certificates from UK and EU. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Theft

The way we travel has changed. Previously, passengers would simply show up at an airport and board a plane. Perhaps if they are traveling to a more exotic destination, they might require a specific vaccination. Now things are different, with many countries requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test or vaccination before traveling there. This created a challenge for the airlines.

Accept vaccination certificates

For several months now, the UK NHS and EU member states have issued digital vaccine certificates held in secure QR codes. From now on, having such a vaccination certificate will become even more advantageous. Passengers will be able to upload them to the IATA Travel Pass app to show airlines and border agents that they meet applicable travel standards, where applicable.

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Of course, the exact requirements always depend heavily on the country you will be flying to. If you are flying to Germany, you will need to prove to the airline that you have passed a negative rapid test, have recovered from COVID-19, or have been vaccinated. On the other hand, anyone traveling to the UK must show a negative rapid test result, regardless of any other COVID-19 status. This morning, Simple Flying announced that Saudi Arabia’s immigration service will begin accepting IATA travel passes.

IATA Travel Pass, digital vaccine certificate, NHS, EU
The Travel Pass allows passengers to avoid lengthy document checks. Photo: British Airways

Commenting on the integration of the new vaccination card, Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President for Operational Safety and Security, said:

“COVID-19 vaccination certificates are becoming a widespread requirement for international travel. Managing European and UK certificates through IATA Travel Pass is an important step forward, providing convenience for travelers, authenticity for governments and efficiency for airlines.

Why are travel passes necessary?

As travel demand returns, in part linked to the progress of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, airports will become busier, which will become a problem for airlines. Earlier this year, Willie Walsh, chief of IATA, revealed that airports are not designed for rigorous document control.

IATA Travel Pass, digital vaccine certificate, NHS, EU
Checking everyone’s documents leads to long lines, as seen at the UK border earlier this summer.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, only a handful of passengers used check-in counters, with many going directly to security with carry-on baggage. As the pandemic required increased document control, many passengers who would typically bypass the check-in counter have had to get used to it again.

Solutions like the IATA Travel Pass move document verification off-site, allowing passengers to quickly go through the check-in desk again and, more importantly, free them up for those who need them. Although during a trip in May Simple Flying discovered that we had to go to the check-in desk anyway despite checking a pre-trip document.

Are you delighted to see the UK and EU vaccination cards integrated into the IATA Travel Pass app? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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