Government AffairsIATA backs European Digital Covid Certificate as global standard.

Vaccine passport confusion plagues travel recovery

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Fragmented rules and a lack of mutual agreements continue to restrict travel, according to GlobalData.
Fragmented rules and a lack of mutual agreements continue to restrict travel, according to GlobalData. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Nattakorn Maneerat

Not too long ago, Covid-19 passports were seen as a beacon of hope to pave for the recovery of global travel.

But as more providers enter the space, the lack of an internationally recognised vaccine certification system could hinder travel recovery as many travellers are left confused about quarantine requirements and travel restrictions.

Gus Gardner, Associate Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company, comments, “Fragmented rules and a lack of mutual agreements continue to restrict travel, with travel restrictions being the second biggest deterrent to travel for 55% of respondents in a GlobalData Poll (see chart below).

“The IATA Travel Pass was hailed as an industry solution but uptake has been poor, and there has been limited government integration. With other providers entering the space, it has created a fragmented system requiring travellers to upload proof themselves to generate a digital pass.

With varying rules across countries, some travellers may pivot to destinations with easier rules or opt for domestic trips, dealing a blow to destinations that are dependent on international visitation, according to GlobalData.

Furthermore, different nations dictate varying rules to show proof of vaccination, from paper to digital records. Digital records are not easy to obtain in some nations, including the US, and will add a layer of complexity for travellers.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is backing the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC), urging states to make it their global standard for digital vaccine certificates.

“In the absence of a single global standard for digital vaccine certificates, [the DCC] should serve as a blueprint for other nations looking to implement digital vaccination certificates to help facilitate travel and its associated economic benefits,” said IATA’s Deputy Director General Conrad Clifford.

According to the IATA, the EU DCC meets several key criteria for effective adoption globally.

The includes the flexibility to be used in both paper and digital format, while the

The European Commission has built a gateway through which the encrypted data used to sign DCCs and required to authenticate certificate signatures can be distributed across the EU.

The gateway can be also used to distribute encrypted data of non-EU certificate issuers other issuers. The EU has also developed a specification for machine readable validation rules for cross-country travel.

Another benefit of the DCC is that it enables holders to access non-aviation sites in Europe that require proof of vaccination, such as museums, sporting events and concerts.

The EU DCC is implemented in the 27 EU Member states and a number of reciprocal agreements have been agreed with other states’ own vaccination certificates, including Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.

In the absence of a single global standard for digital vaccination certificates, up to 60 other countries are looking to use the DCC specification for their own certification.

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