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The electronic passport in 2020 and beyond

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

Electronic and biometric passports

Migration to Electronic passport has been in progress since 2005, and more than 150 states have started issuing this new type of travel document in mid-2018. 

The passport format defined in 1920 is unchanged. The booklet size is the familiar B7 format (125 × 88 mm or 4.921 × 3.465 in). 

But unlike ordinary passports, the electronic passport has a contactless 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. 

Besides, 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 four 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 trends in electronic passport migration​​

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

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 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, reengineer existing processes.

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

Third, count on the e-passport.

The critical 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 passport​ in the making and to be launched in 2018 and the Finnish passport launched in January 2017 are two vivid examples illustrating this trend.​

The future of travel documents

Gemalto also identifies three significant changes in travel documentation:​

More ultra-secure documents


​We forecast a swift migration to tamper-proof polycarbonate data pages, which dramatically reduce the risk of fraud, as illustrated by the choice made for the 2019 British passport​ in April 2018 and Thailand more recently in 2019.

Virtual passports to emerge 

We also expect 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 travelers.​ 

Integrating the passport with innovative smartphone apps can provide impressive opportunities from border control to on-line identification and authentication for eGov services (see France's ALICEM) or even KYC procedures. ​​

A new generation of ePassport to come

The next generation of electronic passport will also include new electronic features.

A new generation of electronic passports 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 ICAO NTWG (New Technologies Working group) undertook the LSD2 conception phase in 2016 and is progressing fast.

1 Billion Electronic Passport

Electronic passport: 2018 and beyond

​Over 1B e-passports in circulation 

With 1,000 million ePassports now in circulation in 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."​

264 million new ePassports in 2018 alone

According to Future Market Insights (FMI), over 264 million electronic passports were sold in 2018. 

The study also forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 21% through 2028 for the e-passport market.

FMI states that developing economies are still held back because of a lack of capital and technological know-how.

High security for passport and why paper still matters in 2020

Get access to our free expert's guide.​​


Get the most valuable experience

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.

Mobilize our financial and PPP experts

The development of secure and robust Identity Verification and Identity Management systems is becoming ever more technically complex and involve significant investments.

The good news?

Many convincing business models can be built around passport projects, and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is an effective instrument of delivery of services.

Gemalto’s experience in Public-Private Partnership financing models - such as BOO or BOT - also translates into a significant reduction in the Total Cost of Ownership for you.

Now it's your turn

As a significant 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.