Australia’s international borders closer to reopening with digital vaccination passports

digital vaccine passport
Keen to travel to Australia? The country’s international borders are a step closer to re-opening with the development of the Digital Passenger Declaration. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

Could Australia’s digital vaccine passport mean international students can soon return to Australia? According to local reports, the Australian federal government has awarded a contract to Accenture to develop its digital vaccine passport — called the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD). This platform will capture travellers’ information, such as their vaccination status. This move heralds a major step by the Morrison government towards facilitating international travel. 

digital vaccine passport

According to reports, Australia’s digital vaccine passport will help replace physical incoming passenger cards. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

What international students should know about Australia’s digital vaccine passport

The Sydney Morning Herald said personal information collected by the new digital border pass for international travel will be passed on to the states and territories and could be used for contact tracing and other health reasons. The DPD will apply to incoming travellers and is expected to be introduced within months. Passengers coming into Australia can complete the DPD on their mobile device or computer.

In preparation for Australia relaxing restrictions on international travel, Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism Dan Tehan was quoted saying by CNN on Sunday that the government would be trying vaccine passports with a number of major travel destinations through Australia’s diplomatic missions overseas. Among the countries highlighted include Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US, and Australia’s neighbouring Pacific islands. 

digital vaccine passport

Accenture will be responsible for developing Australia’s digital vaccine passport. The DPD would capture travellers’ information such as their vaccination status. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Australia’s digital vaccine passport could pave the way for travel to Australia

The DPD will replace the physical Incoming Passenger Card and the digital COVID-19 Australian Travel Declaration form. It will collect personal information, including passengers’ vaccination status up to 72 hours before boarding and provide the digital authority for vaccinated Australians to travel, said the report. 

The technology could eventually also take in visas and work alongside mobile apps that returned travellers will have to download to quarantine at home as the country looks to move away from hotel quarantine. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews was quoted saying that the DPD would support the “safe reopening of the border at scale when supported by health advice” by providing digitally verified COVID-19 vaccination details.

“This will help us to welcome home increasing numbers of Australians and welcome the tourists, travellers, international students, skilled workers and overseas friends and family we’ve all been missing during the pandemic,” she said.

The DPD is being developed by the Department of Home Affairs, and will work with the vaccine certificates, which have been developed by Services Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for the collection of health information. The DPD will undergo testing before being deployed throughout major Australian airports.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had previously said that the national plan allows for states that had 80% of its adults fully vaccinated to resume international travel even if other states had not.