L-1 Identity Solutions has been awarded the prime contract by the Department of State for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) border crossing credential, the new passport card. The contract has an estimated value of approximately US$107 million over five years.
The Department of State is issuing the passport card in response to the needs of border resident communities for a less expensive and more portable alternative to the traditional passport book.
The passport card will provide faster border crossing times and will ease traffic congestion at land border crossings over which US$1.8 billion worth of trade flows into the US each day. The passport card may become a preferred credential of identification and citizenship for Americans travelling by land or sea to Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Mexico.
A standard US passport book is still required for air travel to these destinations and for all other international travel. The passport card will contain a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip, which will link the card to a stored record in secure government databases. There will be no personal information written to the RFID chip itself.
Sub contractors under L-1 for the Passport Card Program include Datacard Group, American Bank Note, RCD Technology, Identity StrongHold, Intermec and Transcore.
It is also the Department of State’s intent to use the passport card as the model for the new U.S. Border Crossing Card (BCC) for Mexican visa applicants. The Department of State anticipates issuing up to 10 million cards to qualified Mexican visa applicants over the next five years.
The contract award is a natural extension of L-1’s current passport contract where L-1 is the sole source provider for the US passport personalization printers L-1 also supplies the Department of State Facial Recognition Systems for consular programs as part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to support national security. L-1 also produces driver’s licenses for one-third of all US states.