Saudi Arabia Set To Accept IATA Travel Pass For All Passengers

Passengers arriving to or departing from Saudi Arabia can start using IATA’s Travel Pass to confirm pre-departure COVID-19 test results from September 30. While many airlines have trialed IATA’s Travel Pass, Saudi Arabia joins just a handful of nations to start using it at their borders.

Saudi Arabia will start accepting IATA’S Travel Pass from September 30. Photo: Getty Images

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s acceptance of IATA Travel Pass will demonstrate how digital solutions can effectively manage both COVID-19 vaccine and test certificates,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General. “The trust that the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia has placed in IATA Travel Pass is an example for other governments to follow.”

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Saudi bound travelers still need paper proof of vaccination status

Saudi Arabia is open to most vaccinated international visitors traveling on a tourism visa. Currently not making the cut are travelers coming from Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.

Travelers from other countries, including the United States and European Union nations, must provide evidence of a full course of one of the three vaccines currently recognized. Those four vaccines are Oxford/Astra Zeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, or Moderna.

Travelers arriving in Saudi Arabia must also provide a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure. From September 30, travelers can start flashing their IATA Travel Pass to show their test results coming to or going from Saudi Arabia. IATA hopes Saudi Arabia will soon start accepting vaccine results on their Travel Pass. For the time being, travelers will need to bring an approved paper vaccination certificate.

IATA’s Travel Pass travels with you on your smartphone. Photo: IATA

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Travel pass one step in restoring international air travel

IATA’s Travel Pass will supplement Saudi Arabia’s homegrown national health app, Tawakkalna. Abdulaziz A. Al Duailej, Director-General of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), says adopting the IATA Travel Pass is part of the country’s drive to adopt digital health certificates and restore international connectivity.

“GACA is committed to supporting all stakeholders to ease and facilitate air travel in an efficient and effective way by adopting best international practices,” GACA’s Director-General says. “We are committed to drive the adoption of digital health certificates and restore international air travel.”

IATA wants Saudi Arabia to also start accepting their digital travel pass to prove vaccination status. Photo: IATA

Saudi Arabia’s big air travel plans

Inputs from Saudi’s airline industry contribute around 6% to Saudi Arabia’s GDP, and this is anticipated to grow. Saudi Arabia has watched how its Gulf neighbors have developed their airlines into global names by harnessing the advantages of their location at the junction of three continents. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz wants a slice of that pie and plans to develop Saudi Arabia into a significant air transit hub.

In addition, Saudi Arabia has attempted to bolster inbound international tourism. In 2019, the country relaxed its visa regime for tourists from 49 countries to encourage more inbound travelers.

Like everyone else, Saudi Arabia didn’t anticipate COVID-19 and its impact on air travel. Now, like everyone else, the Kingdom recognizes that digital travel passes will be part of the future of travel. If Saudi Arabia wants to get back on track with its plans, simplifying entry and exit procedures will be crucial.

IATA believes its travel pass is part of that solution. IATA says their travel pass will simplify and enhance compliance with health requirements for travelers entering Saudi Arabia and contribute to the safe restart of the travel and tourism industry.

Travelers eyeing a trip to Saudi Arabia should check with the airline they are traveling with for eligibility to use the IATA Travel Pass.