The UK is getting closer to confirming the use of vaccine passports for international travel despite previously ruling out the adoption of such technology.

This comes after the UK unveiled new rules regarding travel, which include hotel quarantine, strengthened testing and “tough fines” to enforce the measures.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps effectively confirmed the use of such digital health passports on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (February 10), stating:

“When it comes to international travel, just as we have the Yellow Fever card system… I imagine that in the future there will be an international  system where countries will want to know that you have potentially been vaccinated or had tests taken before flying before you come in.”

Shapps confirmed that the UK government is speaking to other governments about it, including “counterparts” in the Singaporean and US governments.

“We are having discussions about those things to have an internationally recognised system… Internationally, we are taking to ICAO about how best to ensure there are internationally recognised standards.”

This is in spite of the recent statement by vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi that the UK government was not looking at the idea of a vaccine passport, and that the technology would be “discriminatory”.

Additionally, IATA’s CEO Alexandre de Juniac confirmed that he was in discussions with the British government regarding vaccine passports on BBC’s Newscast broadcast on February 9, stating:

“We have very fruitful discussions with the UK authorities and it goes pretty well, I have to say…

“We will see, we should not anticipate but the UK authorities are among those with whom we have the closest link on this element.”

De Juniac added that there was no planned date for the UK’s adoption of the passport, but that the IATA Travel Pass is set to be ready for deployment by the end of March.

Several companies and international bodies have put forward a variety of technological solutions to document and verify travellers’ health status in the light of Covid-19 – for our guide to the different initiatives see:

Vaccine passports – a guide to the different options

And for our feature on the pros and cons of vaccine or so called “freedom” passports, see:

Vaccine passports – arguments for and against