ICAO Publishes Public Key Database for Health Certificates

The International Civil Aviation Organization has published a new data resource designed to aid in more efficient and secure authentication of traveler health certificates, including vaccination and test result information, the United Nations specialized agency announced.

Dubbed the Health Master List, the global directory includes public key certificates signed by ICAO. It is publicly available through the ICAO website and will be updated as more health proofs are issued and new public keys are required. A public key enables third parties to verify that a health credential is authentic and valid.

“The presentation of documentation related to Covid-19 health interventions has become commonplace since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and many States originally issued health proofs appropriate for domestic and / or regional use cases,” ICAO secretary general Juan Carlos Salazar said in a statement. “The result was a variety of different national or regional formats being deployed, and proliferating travel restrictions due to low levels of confidence among State border, immigration and health authorities in the validity of travelers’ health documents.”

ICAO is accepting submissions of public key certificates associated with any health proof that currently may be used for international travel from any of its 193 member states, irrespective of the specific format of the proof or the existing systems used for authentication of the proof, according to ICAO. There is no cost, and all public key certificates submitted will be verified before inclusion in the list, following strict procedures similar to those established for the ICAO Public Key Infrastructure.

“The Health Master List concept is based on the same principals as the generic ICAO Master List now used to verify electronic travel documents,” Salazar said. “It will complement existing national and / or regional solutions and provide an essential international mechanism for sharing public key certificates in line with [World Health Organization] recommendations. “

The International Air Transportation Association supports the creation of the directory, IATA announced Tuesday. “For international travel today, it is critical that Covid-19 health passes can be efficiently verified outside of their country of issuance,” IATA director general Willie Walsh said in a statement.

IATA will participate in a pilot project associated with the ICAO Health Master List, in which private sector providers of solutions for governments to verify health credentials will also be able to access these keys. This will help facilitate the broadest coverage of health certificates in their offerings as international travel continues to ramp up, according to IATA, whose participation is to support the deployment of the IATA Travel Pass.

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