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IATA Is Committed to Making Paper-Free International Travel a Reality

IATA has developed industry standards that will allow travelers to navigate the world without paper documents – everything can be done electronically. IATA is committed to making paper-free international travel a reality. Passports, tickets, and airport check-in could be a thing of the past if the technology is adopted worldwide.

IATA’s recently released “Recommended Practice on Digitalization of Admissibility” is designed to enable air passengers to digitally prove eligibility for entry to an international destination. This will eliminate the need to communicate with the front desk staff.


Programs are already in use in various airports enabling travelers to move through airport processes such as boarding without producing paper documentation because their boarding pass is linked to a biometric identifier. But in many cases travelers would still have to prove their admissibility at a check-in desk or boarding gate with physical checks of paper documentation (passports, visas, and health credentials for example).

The Digitalization of Admissibility standard will advance the realization of One ID with a mechanism for passengers to digitally obtain all necessary pre-travel authorizations directly from governments before their trip. By sharing the “OK to Fly” status with their airline, travelers can avoid all on-airport document checks.

What travelers will be able to do in future:

  1. Create a verified digital identity using their airline app on their smartphone 
  2. Using their digital identity, they can send proof of all required documentation to destination authorities in advance of travel
  3. Receive a digital approval of admissibility in their digital identity/passport app 
  4. Share the verified credential (not all their data) with their airline
  5. Receive confirmation from their airline that all is in order and go to the airport

“Passengers want technology to make travel simpler. By enabling passengers to prove their admissibility to their airline before they get to the airport, we are taking a major step forward. The recent IATA Global Passenger survey found that 83% of travelers are willing to share immigration information for expedited processing. That is why we are confident this will be a popular option for travelers when it is implemented. And there is good incentive for airlines and governments as well with improved data quality, streamlined resourcing requirements and identification of admissibility issues before passengers get to the airport,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.

Data Security
The new standards have been developed to protect passengers’ data and ensure that travel remains accessible to all. Passengers remain in control of their data and only credentials (verified approvals, not the data behind them) are shared peer-to-peer (with no intermediating party). This is interoperable with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) standards, including those for the Digital Travel Credential. Manual processing options will be retained so that travelers will have the ability to opt out of digital admissibility processing.

“Travelers can be confident that this process will be both convenient and secure. A key point is that information is shared on a need-to-know basis. Although a government may request detailed personal information to issue a visa, the only information that will be shared with the airline is that the traveler has a visa and under which conditions. And by keeping the passenger in control of their own data, no large databases are being built that need protecting. By design we are building simplicity, security and convenience,” said Louise Cole, IATA’s Head Customer Experience and Facilitation.

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