Air Travel is About to Get Plane Awesome: Digital Health Passports


Heard of the IATA Travel Pass?

The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass is a mobile app that helps travellers easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information. 

With a global registry of health requirements, the app can provide accurate and up-to-date information on what tests, vaccines and other measures travellers will require prior to travel. 

READ: When, Oh When, Can We Start Travelling Again?

It’s basically a digital passport.

Of late, a negative COVID-19 test result is quickly becoming a compulsory requirement to enter many countries. But not only are there different COVID-19 testing requirements for entry and exit, there are also different types of tests (PCR, LAMP, antigen and spectroscopic) required by governments.

In Singapore, travellers are currently required to take a COVID-19 PCP reaction test within 72 hours before departure. Local authorities will only accept test results from internationally accredited laboratories.

Acting as a “digital passport”, the app ingeniously allows travellers to securely receive and store test and vaccination certificates. As a traveller, you can then share your certificates with airlines and authorities to verify your COVID-19 test and vaccination history. In all, it seems like it’ll offer a far more seamless travel experience.


With all hands on deck to limit the spread of COVID-19, it’s understandable that travel restrictions are at an all-time high. These restrictions are also becoming increasingly complicated due to additional quarantine measures and vaccination requirements. 

READ: Revealed: The World’s Most Powerful Passports & Safest Airlines in 2021

But what’s bugging the New Normal?

On the grand scale of things, what results is a challenging and complex environment for immigration authorities, airlines, and travellers. Any lapses could lead to health check errors and even fraud, threatening a country’s efforts to contain COVID-19.

“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,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Comprising four modules (entry requirement registry, test centre registry, certification holder, and digital identity), the IATA Travel Pass was built to offer flexibility for both airlines and travellers. 

Among other things, the IATA Travel Pass seeks to establish confidence in governments that systematic pre-departure COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements.

“The IATA Travel Pass is a solution that both travellers and governments can trust. And it is being built with data security, convenience and verification as top priorities.”

The IATA Travel Pass might just help to pave the way for a safer and more secure exchange of information. Apart from just being a tool for travellers, the app will also communicate with relevant authorities, test centres and vaccination providers to retrieve necessary verified information for those who require it.

READ: Airlines Slashing Fares, But Who’s Buying to Leave Singapore?

IATA Travel Pass trials have begun, at home.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) was the first airline in the world to begin trials last December, on a partial digital verification process based on the IATA Travel Pass framework. 


As a traveller, you can take Covid-19 tests at selected clinics in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur and be given either digital or paper health certificates with a QR code. And then, Singapore’s immigration authority will be able to verify the authenticity of your certificates via a secure mobile app.

IATA’s Timatic registry will provide reliable back-end information on global requirements for Covid-19 testing and entry requirements, ensuring travellers are well-informed and prepared.

Ms JoAnn Tan, Acting Senior Vice President Marketing Planning, Singapore Airlines, said, “using IATA’s robust Travel Pass framework would also provide our customers and governments with the assurance that they need about the security and authenticity of the test and vaccination information.”

READ: You May Need an Online Visa Waiver to Visit Europe Come Late-2022

More airlines to follow suit.

Although the app is not yet available to all, many airlines are already preparing to begin trials. Qatar Airways will be the first airline in the Middle East to begin trialling the IATA Travel Pass app, with the airline’s Doha to Istanbul route from March. 

Etihad is expected to commence some time in the first quarter of 2021, followed by Emirates in April for passengers travelling from Dubai. If successful, these airlines have plans to extend the service to other flights on their network. 

In the case of Singapore Airlines, there are already plans to integrate the entire process into the SingaporeAir mobile app from mid-2021. There’s no doubting that the IATA Travel Pass will redefine a secure and globally accepted industry standard for Covid-19 related verification. And, we’re all for it. 


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