The travel industry is in a state of flux. 2020 will live long in the memory for several reasons. In addition to the global COVID-19 pandemic, these eventful 12 months also saw the impending onset of Brexit and increased awareness surrounding climate change.
Each of these events has led to many changes in the way that airlines operate, including the use of travel documents. This guide will discuss the recent changes to conventional passports and other passes that have historically been used to travel overseas.
The new documents will enable the global exchange of information, with governments, airlines, laboratories and passengers able to share and receive up-to-date information.
About the IATA Travel Pass
What is the IATA Travel Pass?
The travel industry has been particularly impacted over the past year or so, with various constraints being imposed. With safety protocols for passengers and airline crew of paramount importance, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the IATA Travel Pass.
This is a digital health pass that allows individuals to enter overseas territory once borders have been re-opened. At present, travellers are tested by local government and health services before travelling, but often still need to quarantine upon arrival in a different country.
The purpose of the IATA Travel Pass is to document and verify that all necessary health tests have been conducted. It will also document whether a passenger has received vaccination against COVID-19.
The IATA Travel Pass aims to permit international travel without the need for quarantine, as all passengers will have been ascribed a clean bill of health before boarding transport.
When Will the IATA Travel Pass be Launched?
The official launch of the IATA Travel Pass is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021. A precise date has not yet been confirmed.
Who Needs an IATA Travel Pass?
It has not yet been announced if this app will be mandatory for all travellers. Different countries will likely have varying regulations about the necessity of an IATA Travel Pass.
Even once this scheme is introduced, local governments will retain control over how and when international visitors enter their country. The IATA Travel Pass is an initiative designed by the International Air Transport Association to aid travellers and to complement national regulations.
How Do I Apply for an IATA Travel Pass?
News as to how to apply for one has not yet been released. Keep a close eye on the official IATA website for any developments. It’s also advisable to sign up to Byevisa’s newsletter if you are a regular traveller, so you can react quickly when the time is right.
Will I Need to Pay for an IATA Travel Pass?
No charge has yet been announced for an IATA Travel Pass. This information will become available early in 2021 when the scheme officially launches.
About the US REAL ID
What is the REAL ID Act 2020?
At present, American citizens can board domestic flights within the United States using a driver’s license as a form of identification. This is no longer the case with the introduction of the REAL ID Act. The REAL ID Act establishes new minimum-security protocols for certain acts, including travel.
What Is the REAL ID?
REAL ID is an amendment to the existing US driver’s license. This means that, if your current driver’s license is not REAL ID-compliant, you will need to update it with your local DMV. The restrictions surrounding REAL ID come into force in October 2021, so act sooner rather than later to beat the rush as the deadline approaches.
How Do I Know if My Driver’s License or Identification Card Is a REAL ID?
These forms of ID have a star in the upper-right corner. You may also be able to check with your local state DMV if your driver’s license is REAL ID-compliant.
How Do I Get a REAL ID?
To get a REAL ID, make an appointment with your local DMV. Take your existing driver’s license along with you, alongside documents that provide proof of the following:
- Your full legal name.
- Your date of birth.
- Your social security number.
- 2 separate proofs of address.
- Your status as a legal resident of the United States.
Some states may require additional forms of identification. Those listed above are the federal minimum. Check requirements with the DMV before attending your appointment.
Do You Need a REAL ID to Fly?
A US citizen without a REAL ID will need at least one of the following documents to travel domestically as of October 2021:
- A valid passport or passport card.
- An active US military ID.
- A permanent resident card.
- A border crossing card.
- An HSPD-12 PIV card.
- US Merchant Mariner Credentials.
- A Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC).
Any attempts at boarding without at least one of these documents will be blocked by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at an airport checkpoint. REAL ID is the easiest to obtain and will soon be considered standard.
When Do You Need a REAL ID to Fly?
You’ll need this by October 2021 to fly domestically in the USA.
Do You Need a REAL ID to Fly Domestic?
Yes, you need a REAL ID-compliant travel document to fly domestically within the United States as of October 2021. If you are yet to hold a REAL ID by this date, do not make any travel plans that require a trip to the airport.
Do You Need REAL ID to Fly Overseas?
It is advisable to get a REAL ID as early as possible. Even if you have this, though, you will still need a valid passport to fly internationally from the United States. REAL ID is not a substitute for a passport. All pre-existing security protocols and restrictions will also remain in place.
All About the UK’s New Brexit Passport
Is the UK Passport Changing After Brexit?
Yes, UK passports are changing in appearance as a result of Brexit! Until 2020, the document issued to a UK citizen was burgundy in colour. The Brexit design is blue.
Blue was the colour of UK passports from 1921 until 1972 when the UK joined the European Union. From this date, all those given to EU citizens were a uniform shade of burgundy.
What Is Different About the UK Passport After Brexit?
The most obvious changes to the UK passport post-Brexit are aesthetic.
A Brexit blue one still features the royal coat of arms on the cover. However, it will not display the words “European Union” above this crest, only “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” Some recently issued burgundy ones may not say “European Union” either.
There will also be differences to travel with a UK passport post-Brexit. Even if it says ‘European Union’ on the cover, it does not grant you freedom of movement to EU countries.
Government advice is now that any UK passport should have at least 6 months of validity before travelling, even within Europe (excluding the Republic of Ireland). It will need to be valid for at least the duration of a stay overseas.
Is My Burgundy UK Version Still Valid After Brexit?
Yes, travellers can continue using their existing burgundy ones until they expire. If your current passport is not due for renewal for a while, you do not need to take any action at this time.
If it has less than 6 months remaining, however, it is worth considering changing to the blue, post-Brexit document.
When Should I Renew to the New UK Brexit Passport?
Renew it whenever you would have planned to do so anyway. It is advisable not to let your passport reach less than 6 months of validity before applying for a renewal.
Post-Brexit, there may be longer waiting times for a new one. Consider renewing when you have 9 months or less left before it expires.
About the E-Passport (Electronic Passport)
What Is an Electronic Passport?
An e-passport looks the same as a standard one. The only difference is that it also contains a biometric chip. Therefore, these documents are referred to as electronic passports. This chip holds all the data that is printed on the passport, including your photograph.
Is There an Electronic Passport App?
Yes, but it is only usable for American passport holders. This app is called Mobile Passport Control and has been approved by US Customs and Borders Protection. You can download this app on Apple or Android devices.
What Is the Passport Electronic Chip?
The chip of an electronic passport is an attempt to fight identity fraud and terrorism. It contains all the information about a traveller that is printed on a passport. This prevents somebody from stealing and amending an existing print version.
If the data printed does not match that on the chip or suggests that it is otherwise fraudulent, airport security will notify the relevant authorities.
How Do I Know if My Passport Is Electronic?
The chips used in an e-passport are tiny. You will not notice them by sight or be able to feel them by touch. Instead, look at the cover of your passport. If you see a small, golden camera logo on the cover, it is electronic. If not, you do not have an e-passport.
How Do I Get an Electronic One?
In the UK, all passports issued since 2006 are biometric. This means that, if you have a valid one, it should be an e-passport as these documents expire after 10 years.
How Do I Take an Electronic Passport Photo?
Regulations surrounding an e-passport photo are identical to those of existing passports, and depend on your nationality. In the UK, your photo must meet the following criteria:
- 900 pixels wide and 1200 pixels high.
- High resolution with a clear, non-blurry view of your face.
- Head height of 55%, with 15% of space from the top of the photo to the top of your hair.
- No dark glasses or facial coverings may be worn unless expressly permitted by government regulations.
- Plain, light grey background colour.
To ensure your photo is accepted, it is advisable to have it taken by an experienced photographer. Most high street photo shops provide this service.
About the Electronic Passport Using RFID
RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification. This is the same technology used in credit and debit cards when you pay for goods using chip-and-PIN.
RFID is how the data stored on a biometric passport is read at the airport. RFID is not harmful, and despite rumours, it does not deactivate or otherwise impact any payment credit cards in your wallet or purse.
About the Blockchain Passport
What Is This?
Blockchain technology is a digital record-keeping system that is considered un-hackable and impossible to corrupt. Many online payment portals use blockchain technology to store credit and debit card information.
This is how your computer, smartphone or tablet remembers your passwords and payment information after you make a purchase or log into a website. IBM are the market leaders of blockchain technology.
The idea behind a blockchain passport is that data can be stored with the individual, not on a document. This is, theoretically, completely secure. Every time you travel, the data will be recorded in the blockchain. This can then be read from a QR code on an electronic device, such as a smartphone or smartwatch.
How Do I Get One?
At the time of writing, blockchain passports are not in active use. However, this is sure to change shortly. Some countries, most notably the Netherlands and Canada, have been early adopters of the technology.
What Is the Future of the Passport?
Blockchain technology may be the future. Upcoming technology may not involve a paper document at all. Everything you need will be housed on your smartphone or wristwatch.