The Global COVID Certificate Network (GCCN) follows, operationalizes and adapts the recommendations of the Good Health Pass Interoperability Blueprint (the “Blueprint) for governments and industry alliances who are working to safely reopen borders. One of the key overarching recommendations in the Blueprint is to use “a pass (that) encapsulates a business decision and only contains the data required to make that decision, such as ‘good to fly’ or ‘good to return to work’, filtering out all other unnecessary and sensitive personal health information.”
Regardless of use cases, one needs to have a certificate that contains more personal and health data in the first place to obtain a pass (for more on certificates vs. passes, see the Blueprint Draft). In the cross-border situation GCCN addresses, it is critical to understand where and how an individual can get a pass that they can use to enter another jurisdiction. The GCCN User Flow focuses on demonstrating in a simplified manner the potential and practical approaches for the where and how as a part of a complete journey one may go through if they want to travel from one jurisdiction to another.
Let’s use Susan as an example. Susan just got fully vaccinated and is planning to travel from the United States to Singapore. Based on the GCCN User Flow V1, here is what could happen:
Step 1: Receiving a Certificate
After getting fully vaccinated, Susan receives her CDC card and a digital vaccination certificate that contains the same information.
Step 2: Checking Travel Rules
Susan checks Singapore’s COVID-related entry rules as well as other relevant rules to see if she meets all the criteria to travel to Singapore and cross the border when she arrives. For example, the entry rules may include what types of health certificates are accepted, what types of vaccines and test results are valid, what time period are considered valid for the certificate, etc. There may be other non-COVID related rules from the airport, airline, Singapore border control and others that Susan needs to follow, which are not the focus of GCCN.
Other possible scenarios exist with regards to when Susan would receive the certificate, which we consider in real world implementations, but for simplicity, we didn’t include them in this version of the user flow. For example, if a negative test result were required regardless of Susan’s vaccination status, Susan would need to go through Step 1 again after Step 2.
Step 3: Presenting a Certificate Before Departure
After Step 1 and 2, Susan will know if she is able to go to Singapore or not. If yes, she would need to present her certificate to a rules engine before she travels to get verified and obtain a pass, which she can use later to enter the airport, board the flight and cross Singapore’s border.
Here is when the user flow branches out into different alternative scenarios. In cross-border use cases, government institutions are more likely to be the rule-maker. However, they are not necessarily running the rules engine themselves. Therefore, the alternatives mainly differ in who operates the rules engine to create a pass.
Alternative 1 suggests that the departing jurisdiction (United States) pulls the rules from the destination jurisdiction (Singapore), running them through its own rules engine and creating a pass for Susan, while in Alternative 2, Singapore manages the rules engine and creates the pass. What partially determines which alternative makes more sense is if the destination jurisdiction (Singapore) would trust the departing jurisdiction (United States) to issue a pass to Susan based on Singapore’s entry rules. One would assume that Singapore would prefer to issue and validate its own passes. However, some countries might verify passes from other jurisdictions but not issue any passes themselves. This is where Alternative 1 might be used. Many jurisdictions may choose to go with both 1 and 2 at the same time to ensure availability of passes to their citizens and residents. GCCN will help participating jurisdictions set up and run a rules engine themselves and create passes for both scenarios.
Alternative 3 is where airlines or countries use a third party rules engine service, such as IATA’s Timatic, to make sure an individual meets the requirements to travel and cross borders. GCCN will work with these services to ensure interoperability (IATA also supports the Blueprint).
Step 4: Waiting for a Pass and Step 5: Receiving a Pass
During this step, Susan’s role is simply waiting for the rules engine to process her certificate and issue her a pass. The behind-the-scenes process includes two main steps: verification and issuance. The rules engine needs to verify two very important aspects of Susan’s certificate: if it comes from a legitimate and trusted issuer and if it contains all the right data needed for the verification. If the answers to both are yes, the rules engine will issue a pass to Susan and then in Step 5, Susan receives her pass.
Step 6: Boarding the Flight and Step 7: Passing through Border Control at the Destination Jurisdiction
After Susan receives her pass, she can confidently go to the airport, board the flight using the pass, and cross the border using the same pass when she arrives in Singapore.
If Susan has layovers, depending on the rules of the layover scenarios, she may need to get more than one pass before departure. For simplicity, we didn’t include any layover scenarios in the user flow because the experience is the same as arriving at a final destination.
Similar to the verification process of Step 4, these two steps are about checking if the pass comes from a legitimate and trusted issuer and if it contains all the right data needed for a business decision.
Step 8: Entering Spaces (e.g. restaurants, venues) in the Destination Jurisdiction
This step is out of the scope for GCCN, but we encourage others to think more broadly about the potential use of a pass beyond cross-border use cases.
As the next step, LFPH is working with our stakeholders and multiple communities to iterate on this user flow and develop a more detailed diagram which dives deeper into the technical flows behind the user journey. We welcome any feedback and questions on this first version. Please join our Slack and the #gccn channel to share your thoughts and connect with the rest of the community.