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Minister outlines refinements to TA Form ‘to create stress-free experience for the traveller’

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Changes to the application process for the controversial Travel Authorisation Form will make it speedier and less stressful, Kim Wilson, the Minister for Health, told MPs yesterday.

Ms Wilson said that future revisions would ensure a faster service with a switch from the current manual review of vaccine and test documents to an automated one.

Families and groups travelling together will be reviewed as one so that they receive authorisations at the same time.

People will also get the ability to check on the status of their TA application and be able to change journey dates without having to contact the call centre.

Ms Wilson told the House of Assembly: “We continue to further refine the system to create, as best as possible, a stress-free TA experience for the traveller.”

The minister said that changes which were introduced into the system last Sunday had received positive feedback.

She said: “The TA application form has been simplified to exclude questions that are no longer relevant given the current status of the Covid pandemic, such as asking travellers to provide a list of the countries visited prior to arriving in Bermuda, and how many family members are travelling in their party.

“Repeat travellers to Bermuda can automatically complete their TA based on past applications.

“This very key improvement allows the repeat traveller to avoid duplication of effort.

“Travellers will only have to complete new information pertaining to their new trip, that is the flight or cruise details. All the information is editable except for the name and birth date.”

Ms Wilson said residents no longer needed to upload their vaccination certificate to the TA each time they completed the application as the TA system and the island’s vaccination data are now linked.

Residents who have been vaccinated overseas and have added their overseas doses to their Bermuda vaccine record, and repeat visitors, will no longer have to upload their vaccine documentation.

Travellers now need to initial once on the TA waiver, rather than twice.

She said: “These upgrades and enhancements were introduced last Sunday — and the call centre has received numerous compliments about them.”

Ms Wilson said that the $40 TA fee was still needed to combat Covid-19 and raise revenue to deal with the pandemic.

The minister said: “There are three key things to remember about travel authorisations.

“They are there to protect our borders, to ensure, to the extent possible, we can prevent cases of Covid from being imported. This protects both our visitors and residents.

”The TA scheme is vital to help fund the island’s Covid-19 response.

“The TAs pay for the pandemic support, they provide testing at the borders, community testing for those that are unable to pay for testing, case management for those who test positive and the associated administration.”

Michael Dunkley, One Bermuda Alliance shadow health minister, again called for the TA to be scrapped altogether.

He said: “We appreciate the streamlining of the TA, but we are still of the opinion that the TA must end.”

He also asked if outside consultants were paid to make the improvements, and Ms Wilson confirmed they were but could not say precisely what the outside vendor, ResQuest was paid for the work.

Mr Dunkley pressed Ms Wilson to table the contract with ResQuest in the House of Assembly.