If you have been closely following the travel news during this coronavirus pandemic, then you will probably be familiar with the term ‘vaccine passport’. But what is it and what does it mean for foreign travel this year?

The UK Government is searching for ways to reopen borders between countries and allow international air transport again, and the only way it can see of doing this safely is by having accurate information on air passenger’s COVID-19 status. 

At the moment, there are a lot of different pieces of health information out there, concerning the tests available and who has had them, the vaccines available and who has had them, and so on. The government needs access to all of this information in order to be confident that they are doing all they can to reduce the risk of bringing the COVID-19 infection back into the country from abroad.

In order to ease the way back to international travel again, the IATA (International Air Transport Association) has developed the IATA Travel Pass app. This pass can be downloaded to your smartphone, either ios or android, and it can contain your health information in digital form that can be displayed on your phone.

As well as holding vaccine information, the Travel Pass App will also be able to hold other pieces of health information too such as recent covid-19 test results and any other injections that you would normally need for travel to specific countries – such as the meningitis vaccination for Africa.

What is the current situation with health information?

There are three main challenges to do with the current situation and health information, and these are:

  • Complex requirements – there are a variety of COVID-10 tests available for both entry and exit from countries, as well as many different exit and entry requirements – making it very difficult for people to have a good understanding of what is required at any given time
  • Information gap – many people who want to travel abroad are confused as to the requirements and are not sure where to find the information they need 
  • Errors and Fraud – Many check-in agents are also not fully briefed on all of the requirements, which has led to some errors and inefficiencies and also opens up the possibility of fraud

How will the IATA Travel Pass help?

The IATA travel pass app is aimed at drawing all of the available information together, allowing for a standardised flow of information on a global scale. It will not only help travellers to find travel information but also covid-19 testing and covid-19 vaccine requirements for their holiday as well. 

This means that you can create a digital passport containing all of your covid-19 test results and vaccination certificates and share them with the relevant people so that your foreign travel experience becomes much more efficient and free-flowing.

The IATA Travel App is still in its trial phase at the moment and has not yet been backed by the UK Government, but we will be watching closely to see what happens.

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