Passenger Locator Forms: a digital document workflow urgency during COVID-19

Fri - 07/24/2020

The creation and processing of PDF forms is a very real example about how to handle digital document workflows. Both private business and public institutions can benefit a great deal from implementing digital document workflows today. COVID-19 only reiterates this importance and urgency.

Share this article

Passenger Locator Form COVID-19 digital document worklow

As governments worldwide are fighting to stop or slow down the further spreading of COVID-19 infections, Passenger Locator Forms are becoming mandatory for many travelers. Belgium being just one example.

This creation and processing of PDF forms is a very real example about how to handle digital document workflows. Both private business and public institutions can benefit a great deal from implementing digital document workflows today. COVID-19 only reiterates this importance and urgency.

How to process thousands of PDF forms quickly and easily?

Why not help citizens out and avoid mistakes, by prefilling some of the already known data? With iText 7 Core, you can do this. And once PDF forms have been filled in, you can again use iText 7 Core to extract the data and pass it on to other software or databases, as required. 

Scenario 1: Prefilling data in existing digital PDF forms

Take the example of the Passenger Locator Form mentioned above, travel agencies have a huge opportunity here to offer an improved customer service to their customers when they have to fill in those forms. Since these agencies know already most of the personal details and flight or travel details of their customers, they can offer a service whereby the agency:

  1. takes the Passenger Locator Form supplied by the government
  2. prefills the customer and travel data
  3. makes those updated input fields read-only
  4. digitally signs the form in the name of the travel agency
  5. forwards the updated form to their clients
  6. the clients only fill in the missing data
  7. they digitally sign the form one last time
  8. they send it back to their travel agency
  9. which then in turn delivers it to the government

In this way, travel agencies can behave like a proxy between the government and the traveler, making the lives of their customers easier and reducing hassle. All this can easily be done using iText 7 Core.

An alternative solution could be working with iText DITO®, a low code template generator, where a similar form to the government is created from scratch, customers fill this in online, after which the input data is merged with a similar PDF template and sent back to the government.

Scenario 2: Extracting data from digital PDF forms

There are several tools out there that enable this. In the case of documents such as the Passenger Locator Form produced by the Belgian Government, iText 7 Core is ideal for this type of data extraction. These documents use interactive PDF Form technologies such as AcroForms or XFA, and it's simple to extract data from them using iText.

However, with PDF documents which are not based on PDF Forms, you should opt for iText pdf2Data, an add-on to the iText 7 Core PDF library for Java and C# (.NET), that allows you to easily extract data from PDF documents in high volumes. It offers a framework to intelligently recognize data inside PDF documents, based on selection rules that you define in a template. This means that you can create a fully automated solution for data recognition in a PDF document with basic set-up on the original form template. Data extraction is based on dynamic selectors which can be defined to recognize fonts, tables, text patterns and more. To ensure you have the best possible results, it leverages iText’s text extraction, which offers a high-fidelity recognition process.

Check it out with the example document on our pdf2Data demo site. Alternatively, upload your own document to try. 


Scenario 3: Extracting data from paper PDF forms

Another scenario is where scanned documents or images are received containing printed text in huge amounts. But without machine-readable text, the content cannot be edited, searched, indexed or processed.

iText pdfOCR offers Optical Character Recognition functionality to convert your scanned documents, PDFs and images into fully ISO-compliant PDF or PDF/A-3u files making it possible to access and process the text they contain that you can then feed into pdf2Data, for example.

Scenario 4: You don’t already have PDF Passenger Locator Forms, and need to design and create them urgently

iText DITO® makes databinding easy. Using the visual editor, you simply specify in your PDF template where certain data should be located within document layout. Your different data binds can be configured within the iText DITO® user interface. Customer data, flight information, etc. can be taken from a database and inserted automatically, meaning these details can be accurately communicated and recorded.

Conditional content is another very useful feature. Forms can’t be made too overwhelming with too many input fields. Many people will not be able to fill them in correctly, when you really need accurate information. With iText DITO® conditional content capabilities you can easily define elements within the form which need to remain hidden until the values entered in the form meet certain criteria.

iText has even more solutions for PDF Creation depending on different development approaches, such as using AcroForms, or converting any webpage form (HTML) to PDF with pdfHTML, Of course, you can also incorporate other features into your PDFs such as digital signatures, securing PDFs with passwords or encryption etc.

Use iText when you need PDF in your digital document workflows

iText is a global leader in PDF technology. They develop innovative award-winning PDF software which is used by millions of users - both open source and commercial – to create digital documents for a variety of purposes: invoices, bank statements, mobile boarding passes, legal archiving, and more. The most commonly used actions required by any business handling PDFs in high volumes are all covered by iText: digitally signing PDFs, automating PDF generation, automating PDF processing, PDF customization, data-driven PDF templates, converting PDFs to images, OCR scanned files and images into searchable PDFs, converting HTML to PDF, multiple accurate rendering of multiple languages and scripts, redacting PDF content etc.

The iText SDK codebase has been around for over 20 years. Its feature set and capabilities gives developers many options for creating and manipulating PDFs. With iText you can rest assured that PDFs generated with the iText SDK will comply with ISO regulations, and provides functionality to ensure things like accessibility, archivability etc. need not be a concern. iText offers robust and excellent support in critical times.

In short: You can save crucial time and money by using the existing solutions iText offers. Both are reasons which are of an increasing importance to many public and private organizations in today’s COVID-19 times.

In urgent situations where time is of the essence and the economy is under stress, start working on digital document workflows for your organization with iText.


Still have questions? 

We're happy to answer your questions. Reach out to us and we'll get back to you shortly.

Contact us
Stay updated

Join 11,000+ subscribers and become an iText PDF expert by staying up to date with our new products, updates, tips, technical solutions and happenings.

Subscribe Now