The EU regulation requiring all EU states to begin the process of issuing new passports containing facial images and fingerprints has come into force.
States across the EU have made various levels of progress towards the new documents since the regulations were announced three years ago. Germany began rolling out its ePassports containing two fingerprints back in November 2007, while the Czech Republic began rolling out its documents earlier this year.
And just in time for the deadline, Finland, Slovenia and Luxembourg were among the countries that announced they had started issuing their next generation documents this week.
In the UK the next generation of ePassports will be available from October 2010, following the award of a £400 million contract to De La Rue.
The regulation follows the European Commission’s June 2006 adoption of the second part of the technical specifications required for the introduction of fingerprints into the passport and other travel documents issued by member states. This built on the Commission’s February 2005 adoption of the first part of the technical specifications relating to the storage of the holder’s facial image on a contactless chip in the ePassport. The protection of this image is ensured by Basic Access Control which needs the reading of the machine readable zone in the passport for opening the chip.
The 28 June 2006 Commission decision relates to the additional storage of two fingerprints on the passport chip protected by Extended Access Control (EAC), a system which works with a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI).