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Fully vaccinated? How you can ‘notarise’ a digital Covid-19 test certificate for travel

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Together with the Ministry of Health (MOH), GovTech has developed HealthCerts, a globally interoperable standard for Pre-Departure Test (PDT) results and vaccination certificates to facilitate the safe resumption of travel.

“Not everyone needs to get a HealthCert at this point,” said Barry Lim, Principal Delivery Manager, Agile Consulting and Engineering, Government Digital Services, GovTech.

“It is fundamentally applicable for those who need to travel and have completed their vaccination regime or taken a PDT, for example a Polymerase Chain Reaction, Antigen Rapid, or Serology test.”

Those who need to travel can get their PDT endorsed or get their vaccination certificate issued, prior to travel, through a few simple steps on the Notarise portal, the official platform for individuals to request for a MOH-endorsed digital PDT results certificate.

The platform also enables individuals who are fully-vaccinated in Singapore to obtain a MOH-issued digital vaccination certificate for travel using Singpass login.

What’s inside a HealthCert?

HealthCerts is an open-source framework for issuing digital COVID-19 test results certificates that are in line with international standards and the Singapore government’s requirements.

A HealthCert contains a snapshot of one’s medical record. It could either be test result, or a vaccination record.

– Barry Lim, Principal Delivery Manager, Agile Consulting and Engineering, Government Digital Services, GovTech

For the PDTs, they contain information of the type of COVID-19 test that was performed, the medical facility which conducted the test, and the results from the test.

Sample of PDT HealthCert

Vaccination records, as the name suggests, documents the dates, as well as the types of vaccination that had been administered.

Sample of Vaccination HealthCert

How does it work?

healthcerts
Image Credit: GovTech

The use of HealthCerts for digital PDT certificates enables an interoperable, verifiable and tamper-proof solution which will smoothen and expedite check-in processing and customs clearance at foreign and local immigration checkpoints.

Travellers will need to notarise the digital Covid-19 test certificate — which means having the document certified by the Ministry of Health — so it can be recognised at local and overseas airports.

The certificate must be uploaded on Notarise, after which a notarised digital PDT certificate containing a QR code will be sent to the traveller.

Barry described this process as “simple and fast”. “The digital certificate will be sent to the traveller’s email inbox within 15 minutes, typically in less than five minutes,” he added.

Users can also view their HealthCerts on the Singpass app.

After successfully getting their HealthCert, the traveller can present it to the relevant authority whenever required, either as a softcopy from their mobile device or a hardcopy print-out, with the QR image clearly displayed.

– Barry Lim, Principal Delivery Manager, Agile Consulting and Engineering, Government Digital Services, GovTech

verify govtech
Screenshot from Verify

Airline and immigration officials can scan the QR code to check the authenticity of the PDT certificate using a tool called Verify, also developed by GovTech.

The platform will be able to check whether the digital certificate was tampered with and whether the certificate has been notarised by MOH.

Both digital PDT and vaccination certificates use the HealthCerts standard, which is secure and tamper-proof. The digital vaccination certificate is intended to be used for travel purposes, but its acceptance is subject to the prevailing entry requirements of the destination country.

Travellers are encouraged to check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) website for the latest travel advisories to other countries/regions, as well as the immigration authority or embassy of the destination country/region on the relevant health requirements imposed on travellers from Singapore.

– Barry Lim, Principal Delivery Manager, Agile Consulting and Engineering, Government Digital Services, GovTech

Your data will remain safe and secure

According to the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), the individual’s data remains private with the digital test certificate.

Only a hash, or digital fingerprint, of the digital PDT certificate is needed to check the authenticity and validity of the digital PDT certificate.

Only the recipient of the QR code, otherwise known as the requestor, has access to the data and the means to decrypt its contents. Anyone else ho has been shared a copy of the QR, may also then verify and view the HealthCert contents.

All electronic storage and transmission of personally identifiable information is secured with appropriate security technologies. Reasonable steps will be taken to securely purge or permanently de-identify the user’s information when it is no longer needed.

– Barry Lim, Principal Delivery Manager, Agile Consulting and Engineering, Government Digital Services, GovTech

In a blog post, he further assured that an individual’s HealthCert data is only shared to the verification party for purposes of verification.

“No third party has access to your personal and medical data,” he added.

Private sector partnerships

“GovTech has open-sourced the HealthCerts standard and technology for other countries to adopt and we have ongoing engagement with several countries,” said Barry.

“It is built on the same framework used for issuance of digital academic certificates in Singapore, known as OpenCerts, which enables cryptographically trustworthy documents that are tamper-proof, thus making them a secure solution for issuance, authentication and verification of certificates without the need for proprietary software or equipment.”

It has also teamed up with private sector partners to develop interoperable solutions.

Any business entity can issue digital certificates compliant with the HealthCerts standard and schema defined by GovTech. The private sector can also integrate HealthCerts into their verification solutions. For example, Affinidi’s Unifier app can verify certificates issued according to the HealthCerts standard.

– Barry Lim, Principal Delivery Manager, Agile Consulting and Engineering, Government Digital Services, GovTech

GovTech is essentially supporting businesses which are interested to hold HealthCerts in their mobile apps. Recipients of HealthCerts are then able to choose the app of choice that best fits their travel needs.

Currently, there are 12 companies authorised to work with clinics to issue certificates following the HealthCerts standard. They are:

  1. 1Pass
  2. 3DCerts
  3. Accredify
  4. AOKpass
  5. Collinson Assistance Service Ltd
  6. Jebhealth
  7. JEDTrade
  8. Kiyo
  9. Knowledge Catalyst
  10. NextID
  11. Riverr
  12. Trybe.ID

Cross-border verification of Covid-19

Following the fairly recent extension to digital vaccination certificates, GovTech is exploring other use cases that support the need for digital authentication and endorsement in tandem with the landscape, and could even be extended beyond the existing medical-related use cases.

“The Singapore government is closely monitoring international developments on the use of digital vaccination certifications for travel and is in discussions with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and various countries on the mutual recognition of such certifications.”

Government-to-government agreements need to happen prior to the mutual recognition of digital health documents. The agreements are an indication of the ability to read, trust and recognise the contents of the digital health document.

– Barry Lim, Principal Delivery Manager, Agile Consulting and Engineering, Government Digital Services, GovTech

To help more countries with safe travel, GovTech has also designed HealthCerts to allow any medical institution to issue it; allow any digital passport to store, view and share HealthCerts; and be verifiable on any platform.

“We have open-sourced the codebase of all components to maximise reach and global interoperability.”

To date, over 241,000 PDT and 180,000 vaccination digital certifications have been endorsed and issued respectively.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

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