This Caribbean Island Is The First Country To Allow Entry With A Digital Passport

Travelers to the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba will no longer need a physical passport to be allowed entry thanks to the new “Aruba Happy One Pass” (AHOP App).

Created by SITA and Aruba Tourism Authority, the new system enables visitors to upload travel documents such as passports and boarding pass data to their AHOP app.

Once at Queen Beatrix International Airport, travelers’ information will be verified by SITA Automatic Border Control Gates through facial recognition.

The system has been available for Americans since March 2024 but it’s not fully operational.

Authorities expect to conclude “pre-production” on June 30 and have it all done on October 1.

Let’s clarify something important before continuing. You still need to carry a physical passport with you. There are two reasons for this.

First of all, you will still be required to present a valid physical passport when returning to your home country. Many years may pass before all governments accept digital passports.

And second, because Aruban authorities may require you to present your physical passport at any moment.

“To travel to Aruba, every traveler is still required to have their physical passport with them. An immigration officer can, at any time during the journey, request to see your physical passport,” AHOP.

Thus, the main objective of this program is not to completely eliminate the use of physical passports but to speed up border checkpoint clearance and reduce the risk associated with passport theft and fraud.

The Happy Island, similar to other Caribbean countries, is enjoying strong arrival numbers. Last year, the destination saw a significant increase compared to 2019.

To boost their economy even further, Aruba has introduced myAruba Assistant, an AI-powered travel tool designed to provide travelers with in-depth knowledge about the island’s offerings, including gastronomic options, outdoor activities and nearby attractions.

The tool is also capable of creating personalized itineraries taking into account visitors’ interests, budgets, and vacation time.

“This year, Aruba is making strides to offer an enhanced, environmentally conscious and increasingly exciting experience while also making it easier to plan a trip to our beautiful destination,” said Ronella Croes, CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority. 

“With notable ventures like the myAruba Assistant, new and expanding hotel properties, transcendent events and an increased focus on sustainability, we are excited about the One happy island’s sunny outlook,” she added.

The cherry on top is that Tripadvisor has just named Eagle Beach in Aruba as the most beautiful beach destination in the Caribbean.