Interview: Veridos' Michael Ruhland-Bauer on the Latvian passport


By Craig Guthrie, deputy editor

When it was launched in January 2015, Latvia’s new e-passport immediately made an impact on the industry with commenters impressed by its striking motifs and innovative security features.

In the fourth format for the travel documents since independence in 1991, the document displays design features based on the Latvian Song and Dance Festival, an excerpt from the Latvian national anthem, and the Latvian Republic’s coat of arms.

Security Document World talked to Michael Ruhland-Bauer, Head of Product Management Documents at Veridos GmbH, about the passport. The Latvian passport project was realized by Giesecke & Devrient (G&D). Its international government solution business is now part of Veridos, the joint venture of G&D and Bundesdruckerei.

SDW: What important trends in secure document design and customer needs did you have to take into account when implementing technical features of the Latvian passport?

MR: The customer’s aim was a harmonic design for the whole booklet. This meant we had to ensure that the colors and design elements interacted perfectly with our security features. Naturally, our goal when designing a passport is to always reflect the national identity in the document. With the Latvian passport we have done that by including the “Lielvârde belt” pattern. The traditional Latvian hand-woven belts are available in a great variety of colors and patterns reflecting different Latvian regions. In the passport, the typical “Lielvârde belt” is an ubiquitous element, being displayed on the inside cover page, the PC Data Page, on all inner pages and on the inside cover page.

SDW: Can you give an overview of the modern security features against counterfeiting in the document?

MR: The data page is a critical target for counterfeiters, because it includes the major part of the personal data. Using an integrated security concept, we have incorporated several features for each level of secure authentication: We have embossed laminating structures on the title page and on the data page. The LookID feature, a transparent stripe throughout the whole document, protects the document against splitting of layers. For the first time in the market, the hinge is wearing a visible customer specific and ultra-fluorescent imprint. Holographic elements are placed on both sides of the polycarbonate data page.

SDW: UV features have been in the news a lot lately – why is there such a buzz around them?

MR: As the standard colors for UV features like blue, red, and green are generally available, state-of-the-art security UV features are now being enhanced through for example bifluor colors. They provide additional security level and fluoresce when exposed to different UV wavelengths with different colors.

SDW: Were there unique challenges you needed to overcome in terms of accommodating design requests – such as the numerous song and dance and national identity motifs?

It was challenging to integrate the original pictures of cultural assets into a security background while maintaining the visibility of important design elements. For example, the notes of the national Latvian hymn “Dievs, svçtî Latviju” had to be converted into a laminating structure on the title page. The “old” characters of the notes are recognizable, viewing the document at a flat angle.

SDW: There are also unique watermark images, were these a challenge to implement?

MR: We were discussing several motifs until we found the portrait of the dancing couple. That image strongly reflects the Latvian tradition of singing and dancing, shown for example in the Latvian Song and Dance Festival which is one of the largest amateur choral events in the world. A portrait always offers us many greyscale details which serve as a perfect basis for multilevel watermarks. We are very much satisfied with the positive outcome and good visibility of the watermark.

Michael Ruhland-Bauer is Head of Product Management Documents at Veridos. Veridos GmbH creates secure and pioneering identification and identity solutions. Founded in January 2015, the joint venture between Giesecke & Devrient GmbH, Munich, and Bundesdruckerei GmbH, Berlin, offers its customers a unique product portfolio from a single source.

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