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Top 5 Questions About Digital Passports & How They Work?

The idea of a digital passport or "e-passport" is not new. The technology of embedding biometrics into a passport has been in the works since 2016. In today's climate, airlines, cruises, and governments worldwide are looking for solutions to re-open their countries and help people return to travel safely. Let's dive into the top five frequently asked questions I've received from my travel clients to learn more about what's to come in travel!

1) What's a "Digital Health Passport," & where do I get one?

The easy answer is it's a mobile app, or online certification, displaying a traveler's Covid-19 test result or vaccination record. These digital records will convey the traveler's low risk of transmitting viruses to airline or border control personnel. Designers are hopeful the technology will be a reliable way for checking who is eligible to enter a country based on the country's requirements for testing or vaccination records. The first digital health passport companies to emerge are ICC AOKpass, CoronaPass, and CommonPass. Those in the travel industry include the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass, Mvine-iProov passport, VeriFLY, V-Health Passport, Passport for COVID CCI Linux. Even Ticketmaster is reportedly building a health passport to revive the live events industry. We expect to start seeing collaborations of airlines and countries choosing different passport partners.

2)How do Digital Health Passports work?

The idea behind digital health passport is a simple process for smartphone users:

  • Travelers download an app on their smartphones.

  • They either connect that app with their travel provider or upload their itinerary.

  • The app guides them on what verifications are needed to travel.

  • The travelers show their unique code signifying they have been tested at a certified center or are vaccinated.

  • The app supplies the traveler with a unique QR code, or proof, verifying they are safe to fly, cruise, enter a venue or cross into or out of the country's border.

While expected, over time, systems will become flexible and user-friendly. It is essential to know those without a unique mobile device for each traveler or without smartphones will have issues with these travel requirements. IATA and the travel industry are currently working with these companies and governments worldwide to solve these inherent issues.

3) Is the data safe?

Any system used will require you to store sensitive data. How these passports preserve privacy is under the microscope. It's one of my client's biggest concerns. The ICC AOKPass and IATA TravelPass apps are using blockchain technology. Blockchain technology has advantages because there is no central database to hack in to access personal information. It also means the app providers do not collect personal and medical data. Other providers will have different approaches, but it tends to be the principal area of promotion on their respective websites. With private healthcare information stored on a smartphone or app, there's a lot to consider. There is inherently a risk digital health passports are ripe for both corruption and impartial bias.

4)How will they be used?

Digital health passports will likely be the universal way airlines, cruises, and sporting events check health status. They may be helpful when it comes to "return quarantine rules" for travelers coming back home, and some airlines and airports that offer testing facilities will use them for fast access to testing results.

5) Where are these Passports accepted?

Currently, acceptance of these passports varies by destination and the company that has decided to use them. Most airports and airlines are testing different providers. Travelers will need to check before their trip to find out which providers are accepted. One thing is for sure. It appears we should expect to use some form of Digital Health Passport to board an international (and possibly domestic) flight within the next year or so when vacationing.

The return to travel is ever-changing with new requirements from governments and transportation companies. Reach out to us and let us do all the heaving lifting for you. Once you're ready to plan your next trip reach out to us, and we'll provide you all the details for the specific destination you want to travel to!

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