Zetes to continue Belgian passport role

29/09/20

Seven years on from winning the contract to personalise Belgian passports, Zetes has been asked to continue in its role as a key partner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The company has been chosen to produce the next-generation passports, whose official launch is planned for 2021. This is a Build, Operate & Transfer (BOT) contract, meaning that Zetes is responsible for the initial investments, and is then paid according to the number of documents issued. The term of the contract is seven years, renewable up to three times for a one-year period.
 
In addition to a completely revamped design, the new Belgian passport will also have its share of technological innovations. The information page will be made of polycarbonate and will include several features providing even more effective protection against counterfeiting. Amongst other things, this page will have a transparent window with a dual decoding lens, and will include a contactless chip containing the biometric data (picture and fingerprints), amongst other things. Image Perf technology will be another additional security feature. Some data will also be encoded in a Datamatrix code.
 
Extension of Zetes’ assignments: PKI ICAO and N-PKD
Having extended its expertise and its portfolio of solutions in recent years, Zetes is now also able to execute herself part 2 and part 3 of the  tender for the production of the Belgian electronic passport. These parts involve setting up the public key infrastructure (PKI) in accordance with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the National Public Key Directory (N-PKD). The N-PKD contains the certificates of passports issued by countries other than Belgium, allowing them to be read by the Belgian border authorities when travellers from those countries cross the Belgian border. The ICAO PKI will be used to issue digital certificates for Belgian electronic passports, and will be handled by the company's ZetesConfidens division. 
 
The booklets personalised by Zetes will be produced by Thales. The contract also covers the supply of temporary passports to Belgian embassies. These have also been redesigned to enhance security despite the personalisation that must be done locally. 
 
The delivery of passports to municipalities is handled by the ZetesExpress department, which also delivers the eID cards and driving licences. If the delivery time is five days for normal applications, it can be reduced to four hours for extremely urgent applications.

Alain Wirtz, CEO of Zetes, says: “The ambition of the Belgian authorities, which we share, is to provide Belgian citizens with one of the most secure passports in the world, incorporating cutting-edge technologies. We are convinced that this new document will become an international benchmark. We are very proud of the close working relationship we have developed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the years, and we can't wait to work with them on the launch of this project. "

In 2019, around 550,000 Belgian electronic passports were issued.

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