With governments adopting technology to help with visa applications in recent years, the term “eVisa” has been used according to a broad array of interpretations, often to systems which are not interoperable, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Veridos has made the company’s SmartTravel solution fully configurable to adapt to ICAO’s recommendations set out in a technical report on machine-readable documents for Digital Travel Authorization (DTA) (a companion report to ICAO’s 9303 part 7, which defines the specifications for physical machine readable visas (MRVs)).
Veridos welcomed ICAO’s 9303 part 7 in July, which extended support to new ISO/IEC standards for the encoding of biometric data as well as compatibility with specifications for Visible Digital Seals (VDS).
Veridos’ online SmartTravel solution is now able to immediately adopt the updated ICAO technical guidelines through a quick and flexible implementation process.
“The new ICAO Technical Report is an important step towards digital travel authorizations that are globally consistent and state-of-the-art. With our flexibly configurable SmartTravel solution, authorities can design their digital travel authorization process in line with the new guidelines. In doing so, they are completely future-proof, because the solution can adapt to any ICAO changes, as well as to any new individual requirements that may arise,” says Xavier Prost, head of Product Management at Veridos.
The ICAO Technical Report for DTAs sets out the specifications for automation of the travel authorization process through interoperable digital credential technology.
This enables online submissions, which can reduce the burden on border authorities while reducing wait times for aviation passengers. The steps of a DTA program, as set out by the ICAO, are application, materials submission, biometrics (if used), fees, notification or authorization, and verification. ICAO explains the processes for each step in the document.
In the section on biometrics, ICAO highly recommends the use of a photo in DTAs, with iris and fingerprint biometrics not considered widely available and secure enough for an online approach at present. Those modalities could be useful, however, ICAO notes, to those countries that already have the information through government biometric databases or third-party agreements.
Veridos’ SmartTravel solution includes a web portal for travel authorization applications and electronic payments, as well as a backend for reviewing applications and issuing digital travel authorizations, including the ICAO-compliant VDS-NC. This includes verification scanner software for reading the VDS, which can be deployed on both stationary and mobile devices.
Furthermore, the solution covers the entire procedure from visa application to the payment of fees and visa approval online. Therefore, authorities can design their digital travel authorization process in line with the new guidelines, says Prost. This ultimately reduces the use of paper-based forms and processes and speeds up the verification of certain visa holders.
The benefits of using the solution for DTA are that visa Applicants are able to complete the application form(s) at their own pace, says Veridos, and applications will be more usable on receipt, reducing the need for repeat requests for benefit of both applicant and Government.