Breakthrough for air travel as Singapore becomes first government to accept digital COVID-19 test results for immigration purposes
ICC has announced the first ever use of a digital travel pass by a national immigration authority to verify the Covid-19 status of inbound travellers, following the conclusion of a ground-breaking pilot in partnership with International SOS and the Government of Singapore.
- Singapore becomes first government to use a digital health certificate to verify the Covid-19 status of inbound travellers for immigration purposes;
- ICC AOKpass used by a Singapore citizen returning from Japan on 21st December to present a negative COVID-19 digital test result for arrival verification at Changi Airport;
- Following the successful pilot, all travellers from Malaysia and Indonesia will be able to use ICC AOKpass to digitally authenticate their COVID-19 test results from 23rd December – reducing reliance on paper-based test certificates which have proved vulnerable to fraud;
- Dedicated immigration lanes now established at Changi Airport for passengers using ICC AOKpass app;
- ICC says breakthrough shows growing maturity of readily available solutions to safely restore global mobility – and, moreover, guard against supply chain disruptions such as those seen at British ports this week.
On 21st December, a Singapore citizen returning from Japan on Singapore Airlines flight 637 successfully used the ICC AOKpass to officially present a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (“PCR”) digital test result for arrival verification at Changi Airport’s immigration counters. This was the first time an immigration authority has used a blockchain based, digitally verifiable health certificate.
The originating health records from Shinagawa East Medical Centre were scanned by Affinidi’s Universal Verifier solution at Changi Airport. Following the successful pilot programme, all travellers from Malaysia and Indonesia will now be able to use ICC AOKpass to digitally authenticate their COVID-19 test results, as well as any other necessary health credentials during immigration checks at Changi Airport.
Paper certificates have been used for border crossings previously. The advent of digitally verifiable certifications represents a quantum step forward in the security and safety of international travellers. Digital verification of COVID-19 health status has been difficult because of the need to incorporate a network of testing labs, airlines and immigration processes within a single technology.
From 23 December, travellers from Malaysia and Indonesia will have dedicated immigration lanes at Changi Airport, to digitally verify their health credentials using the ICC AOKpass app. Before departure to Singapore, passengers will need to check the Singapore SafeTravel website for travel requirements, then book a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test at healthcare providers that issue digital health credentials through secure mobile apps like the ICC AOKpass.
These travellers will each receive their test result with a unique QR code in their ICC AOKpass app, which authenticates and securely stores their negative COVID-19 test results.
Upon arrival at Changi Airport, they can use the dedicated immigration counters to swiftly verify their health credentials by scanning the given QR code in their ICC AOKpass app. This facilitates faster immigration checkpoint clearance for travellers, enables more hassle-free travel, and reduces risks of crowds at the airport. At the same time, authorities will be able to combat incidents of COVID-19 test fraud and implement a global standard for travelling, which will further enhance efforts to ensure the safe resumption of global travel.
In the coming months, the pilot programme will be progressively rolled out to other international travellers, allowing for quicker, hassle-free travel – while strengthening efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
Commenting on the breakthrough in facilitating a safe resumption of global travel, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO said:
“We hope Singapore Airlines flight 637 will mark a turning point in efforts to restore global mobility in the age of COVID-19. Following months of pilot tests, it’s clear that the AOKpass app – together with its associated testing and operational protocols – has now reached the necessarily level of maturity to receive sovereign endorsement. We remain committed to working with all partners – public and private – to accelerate the development of an open global standard capable of assuring governments and passengers that travel routes are infection-free. Genuine collaboration will be needed to enable trade and travel to provide much-needed relief to the real economy.
“Despite the hope created by the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines, the chaos at UK ports this week demonstrates why a focus on pre-travel testing will be needed to keep the economy moving in the mid-term. Given the balance sheet hit caused by the pandemic, small businesses can ill afford supply chain disruptions of the kind we’ve seen in the south of England in recent days. Deploying standardised testing and verification systems are, simply put, the only way governments can safeguard cross-border commerce while the spread of the virus remains highly unpredictable. The technology and testing protocols have proven effective in multiple trials, so why not use the readily available solutions?”
Juliana Gim, Managing Director of International SOS Singapore said: “The new pilot programme is yet another important milestone in the resumption of global travel during the COVID-19 outbreak. We began pilot tests of the ICC AOKpass for Singapore-based employees of International SOS in May 2020. We also worked with Singapore company Energy Drilling Management in July 2020, to fast-track their return to essential business travel and work over the past few months. With the adoption of ICC AOKpass at Changi Airport, alongside a growing number of partner healthcare clinics and laboratories around the world, we are hopeful that this secure technology will be instrumental in establishing a trusted and standardised global system to facilitate the return to work and travel across all industries, with Singapore at the forefront of these efforts.”
Dr Chester Drum, Co-founder of AOKpass said: “As we look towards the revival of widespread international travel and trade, there is an urgent need for a common framework in certifying, authenticating and securing the results of a COVID-19 test for air transport stakeholders and local health authorities. In addition, users must trust that their data privacy is managed well, with no risk of personal data leaks. The use of blockchain technology is a critical step in combating the challenges of forged tests and medical records, while enabling quick and secure verification of COVID-19 test results for travellers to have peace of mind throughout their journey.”
More about AOKpass:
Do digital travel health certificates raise security and privacy risks?
To address privacy concerns, data entered into ICC AOKpass remains decentralised at all times and does not rely on centralised data records or external systems. Hardcopy certificates issued by medical professionals are digitised, authenticated and then made available for efficient verification by employers, authorities or any other third parties with no external transfer of personal information.
Security, transparency and strict privacy preservation are enabled using leading-edge blockchain technology co-developed by start-up AOKpass. ICC AOKpass is built on the Ethereum public blockchain network, ensuring complete user control over peer-to-peer sharing of COVID-19 medical compliance and personal health information.
In addition, all medical information and health certificates are attested to by certified medical practitioners, preventing fraud, reducing risks of in-flight infections, and rebuilding confidence in international travel.
How and where can the AOKpass system be used?
Recognising the need for a common framework for the resumption of international travel and trade, ICC AOKpass is also adaptable to the specific needs of different companies and countries – evolving to align with ongoing development of COVID-19 serology testing methods and global best practices. For example, the app is being used to facilitate quarantine-free flights between New York City and Rome, through close collaboration with Delta Airlines and Alitalia. Since mid-December, all travellers have to present their digitally authenticated COVID-19 test results to board quarantine-free flights between Aeroporti di Roma and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
ICC AOKpass will also eventually allow verification for other immunisation and medical compliance records held by individuals, charting the path towards a safer, quicker, and more secure reopening of cross-border travel and trade.
For more information on ICC AOKpass, see www.AOKpass.com
Register your interest for an ICC AOKpass pilot: firstname.lastname@example.org