Servas Canada Pilot: Introducing Electronic LOI
Beginning January 1, 2018, hosts may receive Letters of Introduction that have only the electronic identification number instead of the traditional and familiar sticker stamp. This is the result of Canada’s project to pilot the electronic LOI (e-LOI), produced from the global membership administration system, Servas Online.
Q: What will an electronic LOI look like?
It will look very similar to LOIs used by most countries. It was developed after examining the LOIs of many countries, trying to incorporate all the features that most countries use. A few features may be customized by individual countries.
Q: How can I tell if it is valid?
A valid electronic LOI will have:
- A stamp number beginning with the year in which it is issued(example: 2018-0001)
- A “Valid Until” date
- The signature and contact information of an administrator (interviewer, coordinator or other administrator).
- A picture of the traveller(s)
- A “personal background” statement, describing all of the people included in the LOI (including children).
If you have concerns about the validity of a particular LOI, you can look the traveller up on-line to confirm that these features are in the online profile. Stamp number and “valid until” date can only be added by an administrator. You are also welcome to contact the signer of the document.
Q: Are single LOIs for more than one person allowed (joint LOIs) ?
ServasOnline has been developed based on “one profile per member”’; however, the countries implementing it have found this to be very challenging, especially for host listings. Some countries have allowed joint profiles for hosts. Since many travellers are hosts, it is easier for them to produce joint LOIs.
It should be noted that Servas international has not agreed to allow joint LOIs in the future. It should be noted that the Servas International policy at this point is to promote “one profile per member” and joint LOIs will not be allowed in the future. However, for this year, for the pilot, it has been agreed that Servas Canada may use Joint LOIs. This will give us an opportunity to test their feasibility and also to determine, if it is decided to use them in the future, what implications it would have for the development of the future financial module of ServasOnline.
We look forward to the results of the 2018 pilot!