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Airlines Have New Security Threat: Fake COVID-19 Test Certificates

Airlines Have New Security Threat: Fake COVID-19 Test Certificates
Joe Cortez

While airlines are working every possible angle to resume international operations, they could be facing a new digital security issue. Some airlines are reporting dealing with agents selling fake COVID-19 test certificates, which could allow untested passengers to fly without ever getting a negative prognosis.

Restoring international travel is at the core of every airline’s recovery plan. However, a new digital threat could create major problems before borders even begin to reopen to flyers. The Wall Street Journal reports multiple countries are experiencing problems with passengers carrying fake COVID-19 test certificates.

Fake Test Certificate Arrests Made in Europe, Indonesia and Zimbabwe

In nearly every situation, those who are allowed to travel internationally must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 exam, as well as a quarantine plan. Many of these certificates are based around the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass framework, which is currently operating with certain airlines as a health passport.

But the system isn’t completely without problems, as some travelers are boarding aircraft with fake certificates. The IATA says they have discovered fake certificates coming from multiple nations, including Afghanistan, Brazil and France. Furthermore, authorities in several nations – such as Spain, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe – have also made arrests related to fake certificates.

Making issues worse, airlines now say that despite their rush to resume international routes, their staff is not prepared to deal with fake certificates. Furthermore, their issues could be made worse when countries start to demand proof of vaccination prior to travel.

Part of the issue could lie in the development of digital health passports. Both the IATA and the Commons Foundation are testing and deploying their own versions of digital apps which authenticate COVID-19 test results. This creates a logistical problem for frontline workers who must determine a real test certificate from a fake.

White House Won’t Get Involved in Health Transport Standard Debate

The news comes as the White House announced they will stay on the sidelines on determining a standard for digital health passports. In a previous statement, officials in the Biden administration have stated they won’t favor one technology for another, while in a separate appearance, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. would not create a digital health passport mandate.

View Comments (10)


  1. bchandler02

    April 14, 2021 at 10:04 am

    Enough with the BS. This is NOT a “security threat”.

  2. vargha

    April 14, 2021 at 10:10 am

    I know that I want to be tracked digitally by the government with an official “health passport” that allows me or denies me movement rights. I can’t wait until a full-blown social credit program complete with facial recognition is implemented like the forward thinking folks in China have already implemented.

  3. azmojo

    April 14, 2021 at 10:20 am

    Is it really a security threat? It’s not like the test are reliable anyway. What’s the difference between a false negative and a fake certificate?

  4. DEN

    April 14, 2021 at 10:20 am

    The government, either County or State or Federal already has a record of my COVID-19 vaccination. Who else will be able to verify that I have been immunized?

    The Government doing nothing doesn’t solve the problem nor absolve them of failing to respond. Airline counter agents really aren’t qualified to discern between fake and genuine test documents.

    The US knew they really couldn’t keep citizens ( or resident aliens ) out of the country once on US soil so they pushed the problem to the airlines.

    I’m not sure I have the total answer except doing nothing isn’t the solution we need.


  5. awayIgo

    April 14, 2021 at 10:29 am

    The crooks seem to ruin it for everyone. The same way the world has issued passports for travel there must be some standardized reporting method for vaccinations and Covid tests. I do t get this co cern for privacy.It would include ONLY your vaccine status and Covid related test results! This website deposits cookies. It probably knows a lot more about you!

  6. fof9l

    April 14, 2021 at 11:07 am

    This problem has been obvious from the first time anyone in the world started to talk about “proof” of vaccination or immunity. I hate to say this, but I made this observation at least nine months ago; sadly, whenever there’s a requirement to present proof of anything, forgers and criminals will jump on the bandwagon. The only way this could be even marginally managed is with a global – yes, this means worldwide – standard, and as long as countries like the US bleat about “not enforcing a mandate”, the days of freedom to travel are over. Very sad, hope you all enjoyed it while it lasted.

  7. azmojo

    April 14, 2021 at 11:24 pm

    If the vaccinations work and anyone who wants one can get one, what is the problem if someone isn’t vaccinated? Seems like they made their own decision to take their own chances.

  8. aethelwulf

    April 15, 2021 at 7:12 am

    Epidemic problem in Hong Kong! A negative certificate is required to land in HK. It’s required to even set foot on the plane overseas. Yet every day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, it’s the same thing, same thing over and over. The news reports “New cases in Hong Kong, from people who just arrived from India, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia.” Always the same thing, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia.

  9. dbfact

    April 15, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    See writings of Naomi Wolf if you dont understand why this whole passport/testing is a VERY BAD idea. Doing ‘nothing’ would have been a far superior strategy. Even the WHO stats show Covid statistics comparable to the flu. Time to see this for what it was and move on. Be brave, stay free!

  10. tcollins33

    April 16, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    awayIgo: You don’t understand the concern for privacy? You truly think it wouldn’t be anything more than your vaccination status? If you TRULY believe that, I feel bad for how gullible you are.

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