Technical specifications for proof of vaccination solution published by ICAO

ICAO’s Visible Digital Seal solution will make the process of checking passenger COVID-19 test and vaccination certificates at airports much more efficient and less vulnerable to fraud.

ICAO testing vaccination COVID-19

Delivering another important contribution to the international community’s efforts to realise a responsible and sustainable air transport recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has announced the publishing of new technical specifications for a Visible Digital Seal (VDS) for non-constrained environments.

The ICAO VDS stores datasets for test and vaccination certificates in a two-dimensional barcode which can be paper- or screen-based. Border control and other receiving parties can verify the data against established requirements efficiently and seamlessly, including through the use of traveller self-service kiosks and processes.

The VDS barcode is digitally signed for security, with the signature being based on the same public key cryptographic infrastructure principles that are already used to support ePassport issuance and authentication by more than 145 countries globally.

“As States attempt to reopen their borders for air travellers, they are frequently requesting for passengers to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination or testing as a prerequisite for entry,” commented ICAO‘s Secretary General, Dr. Fang Liu.

“A lack of international standardisation to-date has meant that reading and validating these proofs is frequently challenging. These new VDS specifications will help to make the related processes and documents much more efficient and less vulnerable to fraud. The VDS solution also makes use of already-established infrastructure and procedures, meaning that States can implement VDS barcodes quickly, and at minimal cost,” she underscored.

The publication of the new VDS specifications follows the approval of Guidelines for the use of VDS for Travel-Related Health Proofs by ICAO’s Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) in March 2021.

They’ve benefitted from the comprehensive inputs of States and industry through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), providing an important basis from which the aviation and border control communities can move forward with solutions that are simultaneously novel yet globally interoperable.

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