Progress on vaccination certificates for travellers appears increasingly rapid, with international certification standards on the way “in a matter of weeks”, according to Iata.

But a senior aviation source warned reports of “vaccination passports” are “confusing” and described certification as “challenging”.

EC vice-president Margaritis Schinas said on Monday the EU would submit proposals for a “digital green pass including information on vaccination” to the European Parliament on March 17, and health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed: “If a country says you need to have been vaccinated to travel we want to enable Brits to take that journey.”


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Iata is well-advanced in developing a Travel Pass mobile app which would allow travellers to share digital vaccination or Covid test certificates with airlines and border control. The app should be available from March.

But to make this a reality, Iata head of airport, passenger and security products Alan Murray Hayden said: “We need a global standard for vaccination credentials, we need governments to ensure citizens receive digital test results and vaccination certificates, and we need border agencies to accept digital certificates.”

At present, he noted: “It’s typically commercial labs that issue certificates.” Hayden said governments also “need to let passengers hold health data on a phone”.

Iata senior vice-president Nick Careen said: “What is not in place is a standard for digital test certification or vaccination certification. We understand we’re a matter of weeks away from these. Then it will be a matter for governments to accept them. That might take longer.”

In the UK, where more than 20 million adults have already received a first vaccine, certification for travellers would require the NHS issue digital certificates retroactively.

Iata director general Alexandre de Juniac acknowledged: “We need to include people who have been vaccinated [already].”

The association confirmed it is in talks with the World Health Organisation on standards and with the UK Department for Transport (DfT). De Juniac said: “We have been discussing with the DfT to see if, when and how this could be used by the UK government.”

However, he insisted: “Iata is not asking for vaccination to be a requirement for travel. There are significant populations who cannot or will not be vaccinated.”

A UK aviation source said: “Talk of a ‘Covid passport’ is confusing. The idea is not to discriminate. The question is how do you make vaccination certification work? It’s challenging.”