The International Air Transport Association endorsed the European Commission’s EU Digital Covid Certificate and urged countries to use it as a standard for their own certificates, the association said in a statement Thursday. The EU Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) shares travelers’ Covid-19 vaccination and testing status and has been implemented in the 27 member states of the European Union.
IATA hailed DCC as a model for other countries to follow. “In the absence of a single global standard for digital vaccine certificates, it 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 deputy director general Conrad Clifford in a statement. Up to 60 other countries are looking to incorporate a DCC model into their own certificates, according to IATA.
The lack of a global standard, however, will remain a challenge for crossborder travel facilitation, according to IATA. “The absence of a global standard makes it much harder for airlines, border authorities and governments to recognize and verify a traveler’s digital vaccination certificate,” said IATA SVP for operations and safety and security Nick Careen in a statement.
Varying rules around travel between countries and its consequent complexity continue to help discourage crossborder passenger demand, which remained more than 80 percent off 2019 levels in June even as Europe loosened restrictions to historic travel corridors like the United States. According to reports from the New York Times and Reuters, those restrictions for the U.S. and a handful of other countries may be reinstated as early as this week.
“Travelers have been left confused over how to provide their vaccination status with varying rules across destinations,” said Gus Gardner, an associate travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, a data analytics firm, in a statement. “For some destinations, travelers need to jump through several hoops to prove their status, and if traveling to numerous countries, the process often differs. Even though it appears restrictions have eased, the complexity of proving vaccination will continue to be a barrier.”
IATA deployed its own digital health app, the IATA Travel Pass, to enable travelers to upload and share verified health documentation, such as the DCC, to crossborder authorities. Carriers including Etihad and Emirateshave been among its first users. Another digital health passport available for adoption by crossborder institutions is CommonPass, developed by the Swiss nonprofit The Commons Project Foundation and the World Economic Forum.
However, adoption of digital health passports has been low and too fragmented, according to GlobalData. “IATA’s travel pass was hailed as an industry solution, but uptake has been poor, and there has been limited government integration,” according to Gardner. “With other providers entering the space, it has created a fragmented system requiring travelers to upload proof themselves to generate a digital pass.”