International Civil Aviation Organization Details New Digital Seal But is Canada Ready?

As Canada considers how to proceed with issuing COVID-19 vaccine passports, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is paving the way for their production. The ICAO has announced new technical specifications for a visible digital seal, on Wednesday.

According to the ICAO, the seal stores data for “test and immunization certificates” in a two-dimensional barcode that may be printed or seen on a computer screen. Border control and other receiving parties can quickly and easily check data against defined rules, including using traveller self-service kiosks and processes.

The barcode is “digitally signed” for security, according to the organization, with the signature based on the same public key cryptographic infrastructure principles that facilitate ePassport issuance and authentication in more than 145 countries across the world.

As states work to reopen their borders to air travel, passengers are frequently asked to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or testing as a condition of entrance. Because there is currently no international standardization, reading and validating these proofs might be difficult. The VDS requirements will assist in making related procedures and documents more efficient and fraud-resistant.

The VDS system also makes use of existing infrastructure and procedures, allowing states to swiftly and inexpensively deploy VDS barcodes.

 The ICAO will host a series of regional webinars in the coming weeks to increase awareness of the VDS solution and provide early guidance for State-by-State adoption.

Dominic LeBlanc, Canada’s Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, said the federal government is developing a kind of vaccine passport for Canadians who would be travelling overseas and then returning home in collaboration with the provinces. LeBlanc stated that the government will engage with the Canada Border Services Agency as well as the IRCC, which is in charge of passports, “in the coming days.”

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