New HealthCerts scheme to issue digital Covid-19 test certificates & ensure smooth cross-border travel

For the safe and efficient resumption of international travel.

Lean Jinghui | February 26, 2021, 06:04 PM

HealthCerts, a set of open-source digital standards, will be used to support digitally verifiable cross-border travel.

Minister for Smart Nation Vivian Balakrishnan announced in his Committee of Supply speech for the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group on Feb. 26,

"We're also developing a globally interoperable health cert standard, based on blockchain technology, to facilitate cross-border verification of health documents."

Co-developed by the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Ministry of Health (MOH), the scheme will be used to issue digital Covid-19 test result certificates, and be eventually extended to include vaccination certificates.

Its use is expected to help smoothen and expedite check-in processing and customs clearance at foreign and local immigration checkpoints.

How it works

HealthCerts is expected to launch for digital Pre-Departure Test (PDT) certificates from Mar. 10.

Following the launch, individuals who undergo a PDT at an authorised clinic in Singapore will receive their results in the form of a digital certificate. This could take the form of a digital document or URL linking to the document.

Travellers will then need to notarise the digital PDT for recognition at the airport and overseas. This "notarisation" is done by logging into SingPass, then uploading the digital document received from the clinic.

Travellers will then receive their notarised digital PDT certificate from MOH. It will come in the form of a QR code – through email, and/ or via the SingPass Mobile (SPM) app.

Image via Smart Nation Singapore

At the airport or immigration checkpoints, travellers can just present the QR code of the notarised PDT certificate for verification, either soft copy or hard copy.

Image via Smart Nation Singapore

Airlines staff and immigration authorities will scan the QR code, and can check through GovTech’s Verify platform on the certificate's authenticity.

"Cryptographically trustworthy"

In its press release, Smart Nation Singapore said that HealthCerts will rely on an open-source framework (OpenAttestation (OA)), using blockchain technology to issue "cryptographically trustworthy" documents.

Digital documents issued will hence be tamper-proof, and private under the OA framework.

Additionally, only a hash, or "digital fingerprint", of the digital PDT certificate will be published to the blockchain upon issuance, reducing chances of individual identification.

Only this hash will be needed to check the authenticity and validity of the digital PDT certificate.

Authorised clinics

As of Feb. 24, there are currently nine companies that are authorised to issue HealthCerts:

  • 3DCerts
  • Accredify
  • AOKpass
  • Collinson
  • Jebhealth
  • Knowledge Catalyst
  • NextID
  • Riverr
  • Trybe.ID

The private sector is also allowed to integrate HealthCerts into their verification solutions.

Top image via Unsplash and Smart Nation Singapore