It now looks more likely than ever that British holidaymakers will be required to carry some sort of holiday vaccine passport for international travel after May 17. The Government this week told the travel industry it was working towards a system that would “give people the ability to prove their vaccine status” to satisfy the entry requirements of a growing list of countries including Greece, Croatia and Spain. But after months of speculation, Britons are no clearer on how such a scheme might work. Below we run through some of the most common questions. Will a Covid vaccine passport be a physical document? It seems unlikely. There are currently two leading prototypes that the UK Government could take inspiration from: one by Iata, the International Air Transport Association, called the Travel Pass; and two, the EU’s Digital Green Certificate, agreed this month by a host of European countries. Both are digital, on smartphones, and would work in the same way a boarding pass on a phone would work today. However, it is not clear whether a code would be scanned or something would need to be shown to a member of staff; the EU says its includes a QR code. That the NHS Test and Trace programme is on an app also suggests that a holiday vaccine passport would be digital. However, the most obvious comparison, a Yellow Fever vaccine certificate remains a physical document. A warning to any government considering introducing the use of physical passports might be the saga that engulfed South Africa when it asked parents travelling with children to bring their unabridged birth certificates to the airport in a bid to clamp down on child trafficking. The scheme was a calamity with confusion over who was meant to check what. A number of British families were refused boarding and left stranded at the airport having been unsure on exactly what documentation was needed. How do I get a holiday vaccine passport? It presumably needs to be linked to your NHS profile and number, which knows whether you have received a coronavirus vaccination or not. Travel medicine specialist Dr Richard Dawood said he had been assisting Iata, among others, with developing their apps. He said: “For the UK vaccination programme, there will need to be a way for travellers to download their vaccine records from the NHS securely.” One might imagine then that those with proof of vaccine cards might be able to input a number into a vaccine passport app to confirm their status. It is possible you will have to download a new app. The Iata one is free to download and use, with the cost falling on the airlines that sign up to use it. The EU has said the Digital Green Certificate will be free to users and, though digital, will be able to be shown if printed out on paper. Iata, too, said it can offer paper versions. The Department for Transport would not comment on whether it was working to join the EU scheme, or indeed, Iata’s, but a spokesperson said: “We are working on a solution to enable residents to prove their Covid-19 status, including vaccination status, to other countries on the outbound leg. We are working on this as a priority and intend to have the solution ready as soon as possible.” Tell me more about the Iata Travel Pass Iata’s Travel Pass seems to be a global choice as it stands, having been trialled by more than 20 airlines, including British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Etihad. Iata said: “Iata Travel Pass is a mobile application that helps travellers to store and manage their verified certifications for Covid-19 tests or Covid-19 vaccines. “This will be important for governments that are likely to require either verified testing or vaccination proof as a condition of international travel during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.” It is not yet clear as to how the airlines that use the app will integrate the necessary documents with the requirements of national border checks. Iata says the app will allow users to check the requirements of different countries, register test results as well as vaccinations and links with laboratories to confirm their Covid status. It would also be able to carry someone’s Yellow Fever vaccine proof, too. Iata was clear to point out it was not mandating the need for vaccine passports. It said: “Governments decide the requirements to travel; airlines and passengers need to comply.” What about the EU Green Digital Certificate (GDC)? Still in its development stage, the GDC has been agreed by member states to facilitate the return to international travel throughout the bloc. The EU said: “A Digital Green Certificate will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has received a negative test result or has recovered from Covid-19 that can be used across all EU Member States. It can also be introduced in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway as well as Switzerland.” It works on the same principles as the Iata Travel Pass, offering to prove that a visitor has been vaccinated but also tested negative for Covid, with a PCR test. It will also show when someone has recovered the virus. “In this way, as many persons as possible should be able to benefit from a Digital Green Certificate when travelling,” the EU said. How will a vaccine passport keep my data private? Both Iata and the EU have said they will ensure the sensitive medical data will be kept secure. Dr Dawood said: “All the apps I have seen so far are based on the idea that data storage is local (on an individual’s smartphone) rather than central, with privacy at the fore. “The Iata app will also be able to access (private) test results for travel and will link the available data to published entry requirements relating to intended travel, turning ‘green’ or ‘red’ according to whether the requirements have been correctly met, and the others seem to work in a similar way. They are still in development and have had some small-scale trials. How the NHS will make vaccine data available, accessible, and verifiable, is the key practical question. It has been obvious from the very start that this would be needed, so it ought to have been clearly thought through.” Which countries will accept holiday vaccine passports? There is no official list but a number of countries have shown interest in their implication, including British holiday favourites, Spain, Portugal and Croatia. Israel, Turkey and Cyprus have also expressed interest. See the full list here. Will a holiday vaccine passport be used in the UK? There is no indication that any scheme used for international travel will be required domestically, whether that is entering another country within the UK or for hospitality venues, such as pubs or restaurants. When will it be introduced? The Government says it wants to have a “solution” in place for when it reopens international travel on May 17, though it has not confirmed that date yet (news is expected on May 10). Whether the countries to make our ‘green’ list will tally with those using a vaccine passport is not clear, but it would seem to make sense. The UK is currently behind on implementation of its scheme, given Iata is already using its Travel Pass and the EU says its scheme will be in operation by the end of June.