Biometric Passports Set To Change The Way You Travel Abroad

Feb 9, 2022
3 min read

What do you pack first when it is time for you to travel to another country? The first thing that comes to mind is - the passport. A passport is an official government travel document issued to enable its holder to travel in between countries.

We need passports for international travel since they are documents that help to verify your identity as well as your nationality. A safer and more efficient way to do this is by using biometric or chip-based e-passports.

In this blog, we will get some insight into the necessity and importance of chip-based e-passports and their possibilities.

What is Different About the New Chip-based e-Passports?

A biometric passport (sometimes called an e-Passport) is one with an integrated electronic microprocessor chip installed on the cover. The passport chip carries identity information that is used to verify the passport holder's proof of identity. The e-passport has a data page. Your vital information is printed there and saved in the chip. This contains your name, date and place of birth, and other biographical details.

An electronic passport is a sophisticated security certification featuring several security elements that have been regularized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Union (EU).

Unique Features of Chip-based e-Passports

E-passports are becoming available in different countries as of late, not only because it is hassle-free and less time-consuming, but also because of increased security surveillance methods.

An Electronic Passport has the following unique features:

1) Securely saved biographical information and a digital photograph that are similar to the information on the passport.
2) Contactless chip technology allows specific chip readers to read the information stored in an e-Passport from a short distance.
3) To authenticate the legitimacy of the data contained on the chip, it employs digital signature technology. Integrated circuits or chips are often utilized in credit cards and other sensitive papers to implement this technology.

Distinguishing between Regular Passports and Chip-based e-Passports

Except for one critical distinction, a chip-based e-passport or Electronic Passport is comparable to a standard passport book. The main distinguishing factor is that an RFID chip is installed on the back cover of the E-passport travel document.

Electronic chips must be validated using public key infrastructure (PKI), which makes forging a biometric passport exceedingly tricky and expensive. This also ensures that they are exceptionally secure (if they correctly and fully implement all security mechanisms). During border checks, forgery is simpler to prevent thanks to the introduction of biometric or chip-based e-passports.

Why are Different Countries Shifting to e-Passports?

Congress in the U.S. has made a rule regarding passports compulsory. That is, all the nations participating in the Visa Waiver Program with the United States must issue passports with integrated circuits (chips). These chips must allow for the storing of at least one digitally produced picture of the passport image. The digital image can be used per facial recognition software.

The United States is doing this on a mutual basis and will adhere to the most up-to-date international standards for safe travel credentials. The advent of the new biometric passport also facilitated the onset of additional surveillance features including the holder's facial biometric.

To make life easier for people, the Indian government too will begin issuing e-Passports to its citizens in 2022-23. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and biometrics will be used to verify the identity of persons in Indian e-passports, as they are in all other nations.

Personal data of the passport holder, such as name and biometric characteristics, will be stored on the chip-based e-Passports. This technologically advanced system will be able to identify tampering with the chip, and the passport will not be verified in such a scenario.

E-passports are already in use in over 60 countries across the world. ePassports have already been granted in five ASEAN nations (Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, and Cambodia).

Expectations and Prospects of the Latest Chip-based e-passports

Almost all nations issue people with machine-readable passports that include written information on the identification page, also known as the data page. An optical reader may be used to scan them.

A digital passport is identical to a traditional passport. The sole incorporation is an electronic chip that will save the passport holder's personal information as well as travel information.

Biometrics are included in an e-Passport, making it more secure.

The chip is also planned to transmit data at the airport counter in minutes, saving passengers and airport employees time and effort.

The gates match the passenger's face to the digital image stored in their passport using facial recognition technology. Border Force officials keep an eye on them. Anybody who is turned away at the gates is dutifully sent to a manned passport check. At this point, they have to have their identification and passport examined by a security official.

Bottom Line

From handwritten cards with glued-in photographs to completely digital, electronic documents, passports are fast developing. The adoption of digital certificates has the potential to boost national security significantly. Furthermore, passport control at computerized immigration control gates is substantially accelerated by machine-readable electronic IDs.

Experts think that introducing the E-passport will improve the overall citizen experience, increase security, and make foreign travel easier.