New Zealand will have two separate vaccine certificates for domestic and international use because each requires different personal data to be shared, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The standard NZ’s international vaccine certificate is built on will also allow New Zealanders to upload their certificate to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) travel pass app that will soon be required for international flights by Air New Zealand.

The MoH has built the My Covid Record platform to display individual vaccination status and later this month it will show historic covid-19 test results.

Vaccine certificates that New Zealanders will be able to use to show their vaccination status domestically and internationally are promised by the end of November.

"International certificates are being built to an international standard and this QR Code will contain additional data about the traveller and their vaccination details – as required internationally,” Michael Dreyer, the MoH’s group manager of national digital services, told BusinessDesk. 

“Domestic certificates on the other hand contain very little personal information and are for the purpose only of being able to enter venues that require proof of vaccination. The amount of data in an international certificate is not appropriate to share in a domestic setting.”

The MoH did not address earlier questions posed by BusinessDesk as to whether there was a standard procurement process and competitive tender to choose which technology partners took part in the My Covid Record project. 

The ministry is using the European Union digital covid-19 certificate (EU-DCC) standard for international vaccine certificates.

“This is a standard that is increasingly being adopted by a number of countries outside the EU,” Dreyer said. 

The EU DCC standard is accepted in all EU member states and is digital proof that a person has been vaccinated, received a negative test result, or has recovered from covid-19. At the time of publication, sixteen countries outside the EU are using the standard, including Albania, Iceland, Israel, and Ukraine. 

Many of these countries accept the EU DCC certificates as domestic proof of vaccination, unlike NZ which has opted for two separate systems. 

Flight path

People will be able to upload this EU DCC vaccine certificate to the internationally recognised IATA travel pass mobile application that Air NZ will soon require all international travellers to present in order to fly.

New Zealanders travelling abroad currently have to request a letter from the government as proof of vaccination.

Currently, the IATA travel pass only accepts the EU DCC and the UK’s NHS covid pass as compatible proof of vaccination. The app cross-checks an individual’s vaccine status and travel itinerary to ensure they meet the requirements for international travel to the desired destinations.

The technology the app is based on is decentralised, meaning passenger information is not stored on its system. 

The MoH has been careful not to refer to either of its vaccine certificates as a ‘passport’.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) deputy chief executive service delivery and operations, Maria Robertson, said the DIA has been working with the MoH and NZ customs to develop verifiable health credentials for international travel.

“The department’s role with the group involves engaging with standards-setting organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and providing views on the technology and mechanisms that can be used to ensure receiving countries/parties can verify the authenticity of a vaccine credential.”

Dreyer said the DIA had provided advice and support around digital signatures and trust frameworks.