The electronic passport in 2018 and beyond

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The electronic passport in 2017

Migration to electronic passport has been in progress since 2005 and more than 120 states have started issuing this new type of travel document. Unlike conventional passports, the electronic passport has a microprocessor which stores a digital version of the ID photo as well as all of the ID data found on the first page of the paper passport. 

In addition, digital fingerprints can be stored. In this case it is referred to as a biometric passport or second generation of electronic passport or e-passport.

A decade after the launch of the first wave of electronic passports, we see 4 common trends in the approaches being adopted in electronic passport migration, the technologies selected, and the impacts on existing processes and the overall passport design.

Let's dig in.

4 common trends in electronic passport migration​​

The recent electronic passport programs set a pattern that should be considered when planning a migration to a new generation of electronic passport.​

In this context, public authorities will:

First​, plan a total document update.

Countries that have introduced new electronic passports over the past decade have taken the opportunity to totally update their national travel document.

They have added a range of additional visual and electronic security features to combat identity fraud and to strengthen national and international confidence in travel documents. 

Second, re-engineer existing processes.

The introduction of a microprocessor-based passport has also been the catalyst for reengineering life cycle processes, from enrollment to issuance, and is now facilitating border control as automatic border control gates are being implemented in airports. 

Third, count on the e-passport.

It is clear that the key components of new electronic passports involve technology and solutions which are robust and fully capable of delivering the results required. 

Then, set new design expectations.

Last but not least, authorities have set new design expectations for distinctive passports that are as secure as they are attractive. 

Many countries have been able to deliver unique travel documents that become works of art and symbols of trust and pride in the hands of millions. The Norwegian epassport​ in the making and to be launched in 2018 and the Finnish passport launched in January 2017 are two vivid examples illustrating this trend.​

1 Billion Electronic Passport

Electronic passport : 2018 and beyond

​Over 1B epassports in circulation 

With 1,000 million ePassports now in circulation at mid-2017, smart borders and smart airports are emerging at a faster pace. Combined with a strong push behind biometrics (particularly face recognition), they open the door to a comprehensive range of automated, self-service airport facilities for passengers, from check-in to immigration control and boarding  

They offer travelers a taste of cross-border movement that is as secure as it is swift and seamless.​​​

To know more on biometrics and aviation, visit our web dossier: Biometrics to transform air travel and the "passenger experience"​

A new generation of ePassport to come

A new generation of electronic passport will soon digitally store travel information such as eVisas and entry/exit stamps to support even more efficient immigration control. With LDS2 (logical data structure version 2) the new generation of electronic passport to come will move from read only to read and write. 

The LDS2 conception phase was undertaken by the ICAO NTWG (New Technologies Working group) Logical Data Structure 2 Sub-Group in 2016 and is progressing fast.

More secure documents and virtual passports to emerge

The 2 key trends in travel documentation identified by Gemalto include for the 2018-2020 period are:

  • swift migration to tamper-proof polycarbonate data pages, which dramatically reduce the risk of fraud.
  • rapid growth in secure digital travel credentials​. The data from the ePassport is stored on the holder's smartphone or similar personal device to create a secure companion to the physical passport for travellers.​ Storing new biometric data, smarter border controls, integrating the passport with innovative smartphone apps can provide impressive opportunities. ​

High security for passport and why paper still matters in 2018

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Gemalto is currently contributing to more than 45 passport initiatives and border management programs. 

Our contribution to these projects provides us with :​

  • an excellent overview of the technology involved, 
  • its applications,
  •  the quality of information systems, 
  • as well as the context of its use.

We are proud to have helped our customers succeed in designing some of the most secure and attractive passports to appear in recent years.

As a major player in the world of secure electronic passports, we believe Gemalto's mission is also to contribute to informing our partners and the wider industry, sharing best practices and presenting expert analysis. We'll be happy to talk with you about your e-passport migration project.