New 'Digital Passport' Travel Pass Soon to Take Off in the Middle East

  • 3 years   ago
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How to make sure that your travel documents are approved for your next trip? How to get a digital version of your regular passport? Both of these and more are possible with an IATA Travel Pass!

This mobile app, launched by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is designed for easier travel around the world during the pandemic.

But, how to use this app and why is it useful for your next travels? 

IATA’s pass would enable passengers to create a ‘Digital Passport, (a secure digital version of their original passports), with their vaccination certificate and Covid-19 test results linked to it.

It will provide proof of passengers’ testing and vaccination history that can be shared with airlines and immigration officials at airport checkpoints upon arrival.

It is designed to facilitate passenger screening at the airport check-in and aircraft boarding.

All necessary documents will be easily accessible at all times via personal mobile phones. 

This app can also be used by travelers to manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout their journey, improving the travel experience.

The IATA Travel Pass Perks

1. Create a secure digital version of your original passports

2. Provide proof of your testing and vaccination history

3. Find information on travel, testing and vaccine requirements for your journey

4. Find testing centers and labs at your departure and/or arrival location for tests required for your travel

5. Receive test results or vaccination certificates securely from authorized labs and test centers

6. Verify if your test/vaccination meets the regulations

7. Share your test/vaccination certificates with authorities to facilitate travel

8. Share with airlines and immigration officials at airport checkpoints upon arrival

9. Have a smooth screening at the airport check-in and aircraft boarding

10. Easily access all necessary documents at all times via your personal mobile phone

11. Manage your travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout your travel experience

12. More secure and efficient than current paper processes

The good news is: IATA recently announced that this digital travel pass will ‘go live’ in the Middle East in the coming weeks. This means it will soon be available on your phone device.

“It will go live in the next couple of weeks with a number of carriers in the Middle East region,’ said Willie Walsh, IATA's director general, without specifying which airlines.

Qatar Airways was the first airline in the region to trial the IATA Travel on its Doha-Istanbul route on March 11, in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

In this video, the national flag carrier explains the convenience of using the app:

With the Digital Passport, you can manage all your travel needs on your mobile phone. Here’s how the app works:

1. Download the “IATA Travel Pass” app and register.

The IATA Travel Pass app is now available for download on the Apple Store and Google Play but travelers will not be able to use it unless their airline is part of a trial. 

According to a Chief official of the global airline body, the long-awaited digital pass is set to be applied in the Middle East in the coming weeks.

2. Access registry of approved medical centres.

Global registry of health requirements – to find accurate information on travel, testing and vaccine requirements for journeys 

Global registry of testing/vaccination centers – to identify testing centers and labs at departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of the destination

3 . Scan QR Code to share details with the centre.

Scan the QR code presented at the lab or at the airport. 

Lab app – to locate authorized labs and test centers to securely share test and vaccination certificates

4. Receive results securely through the app.

Travelers always remain in control of their data with their privacy protected. The IATA Travel Pass does not store any data centrally. It simply links entities that need verification (airlines and governments) with the test or vaccination data when travelers permit. This last point is key. No verification will go to an airline or a government without the authorization of the traveler.

5. App checks results against your itinerary.

Stay safely in the comfort of your digital passport while it verifies your travel eligibility from one destination to another.

6. IATA sends you 'OK TO TRAVEL' status

Apart from your name, passport number, and flight details, you will receive notifications like:

"Your COVID-19 (text type) test result has been verified against the requirements for your journey and you are ready to fly."

7. Show at the airport and be cleared for travel.

By presenting your confirmed results and approved travel requirements via the app, you’re now cleared for travel.

Want to know more about the IATA Travel Pass? Check these Frequently Asked Questions and Answers?

What is the IATA Travel Pass?

It allows travellers to simply and securely store and manage certifications for COVID-19 tests or vaccines.  It is a secure means to manage health requirements, much more efficient than paper processes.

This will be important for governments which are likely to require either verified testing or vaccination proof as a condition of international travel during and after the pandemic. 

How does it work?

The information through the IATA Travel Pass can be shared with border authorities requiring testing or proof of vaccination as a condition of international travel during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a passenger, do I need to pay for an IATA Travel Pass?

No, IATA Travel Pass will be free for passengers to download and use. 

It appears that each traveler must have a smartphone, so how do you handle families who may not have a smartphone each, or individuals who do not use a smartphone?

There will be paper-based alternatives for people who do not have mobile phones. And for families, IATA has formed an industry working group to explore how it can make the process as seamless and efficient as possible. 

Will I be banned from traveling if I am not vaccinated?

Governments, not airlines and not IATA, make the rules on entry requirements for travelers. Airlines and passengers need to comply. Governments will also decide if vaccinations will be mandatory or voluntary for their populations. If governments make vaccinations a requirement for travel, airlines will comply, and the IATA Travel Pass will help them.

How will the various stakeholders needing access to the testing and vaccine data be able to access it, i.e., airlines, immigration, airports, etc.?

Verified certificates for COVID-19 tests or vaccinations will be stored on the traveler’s phone. When needed, the traveler will be prompted to release their certificates to authorities and other stakeholders. If the passenger chooses to do so the data is sent by them from their phones directly to the other entity. Travelers always remain in control of their data with their privacy protected.

How is a test result or vaccination being verified as not fraudulent?

IATA does not verify the test or vaccine results. It provides the means for registered labs to send test results and vaccine details to travelers in a secure manner whereby the details can be verified to guarantee authenticity of origin and integrity of the content. The IATA Travel Pass ensures that this transaction is secure and matches the identity of the traveler with the identity of the person taking the test/vaccination.

COVID-19 test results and vaccination details are sent from the registered laboratory to the passenger’s phone as a verifiable credential. As such it is not possible for the passenger to tamper with this data. There are also checks put in place to ensure the passenger’s identity to avoid transferring test results to a new person. 

How will IATA Travel Pass help the reopening of international travel?

IATA Travel Pass will help give governments the confidence to reopen borders without quarantine. To reopen borders without quarantine, governments need to be confident that they are mitigating the risk of importing COVID-19. Testing, or proof of a vaccine, is the solution. IATA Travel Pass will manage and verify the secure flow of testing or vaccination information between governments, airlines, laboratories and travelers which will guarantee the traveler’s COVID-19 status.


How do passengers create a ‘digital version of their passport’ using the Contactless Travel App?

To create a digital identity a passenger will need to follow these steps:

1. Download the free IATA Travel Pass to their Smartphone

2. Log in

3. Take a selfie with their Smartphone

4. Complete a ‘liveness test’ as instructed by the phone – i.e., move their head, close their eyes in front of the camera as instructed

5. Take a scan of the data on the two lines at the bottom of the passport photo page with their


6. Scan the data-chip on the passport as prompted by the phone

7. The IATA Travel Pass then verifies that:

i. the passport belongs to the person in front of the phone

ii. that the passport is genuine and has not been tampered with

8. The verified digital credential is then stored on the passenger's phone and can be used as their ‘digital passport.’

How are my passport details used?

• The IATA Contactless Travel App will enable passengers to create a digital version of their passport on their phone.

• The passenger can then choose to securely send their passport details to airlines, airports and border control. 

• This will ensure that document and identity verification can be performed off-airport, and facial

recognition can be used to swiftly process passengers at key touch points at the airport without the need to physically exchange passports and boarding passes.

Is contactless travel possible with the Contactless Travel App?

Yes, the Contactless Travel App will allow passengers to:

1. Create a digital identity by scanning their passports with their Smartphones. The scan is then

stored on their phone and can be used as their ‘digital passport.’

2. Choose to share their digital identity including their digital photo directly with airline, airport, and border control partners

3. Experience contactless travel at the airport by using facial recognition to link them to their digital passport. Their faces become their passport and boarding pass.

Today, apart from visas, governments have imposed additional restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic  such as: quarantine measures, testing requirements and vaccination certificate.

IATA Travel Pass is a tool for travelers and it connects with governments,  airlines, and test centers/vaccination providers to get verified information to those who need it in a safe and secure manner.

Now that you know the convenience of using this app, do you think it will help return travel and life back to normal? Would you be willing to use this app? Share us your thoughts in the comments below!