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Countries with biometric passports:      Has biometric passports      Only for diplomats      Will have in the near future
Symbol for biometric passports, usually printed on the cover of passports
The contactless chip found in British passports

A biometric passport, also known as an e-passport or ePassport, is a combined paper and electronic passport (hence the e-, as in e-mail) that uses biometrics to authenticate the identity of travelers. It uses contactless smart card technology, including a microprocessor chip (computer chip) and antenna (for both power to the chip and communication) embedded in the front or back cover, or center page, of the passport. Document and chip characteristics are documented in the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) Doc 9303[1][2][3]. The passport's critical information is both printed on the data page of the passport and stored in the chip. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is used to authenticate the data stored electronically in the passport chip making it virtually impossible to forge.

The currently standardized biometrics used for this type of identification system are facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, and iris recognition. These were adopted after assessment of several different kinds of biometrics including retinal scan. The ICAO defines the biometric file formats and communication protocols to be used in passports. Only the digital image (usually in JPEG or JPEG2000 format) of each biometric feature is actually stored in the chip. The comparison of biometric features is performed outside the passport chip by electronic border control systems (e-borders). To store biometric data on the contactless chip, it includes a minimum of 32 kilobytes of EEPROM storage memory, and runs on an interface in accordance with the ISO/IEC 14443 international standard, amongst others. These standards ensure interoperability between different countries and different manufacturers of passport books.

Note that the USA Passport card is not a biometric passport. The passport card does not follow the ICAO's Doc 9303, can only be used in a limited number of countries and uses a simple RFID chip instead of the contactless smart card technology that is used for biometric passports. Contactless smart card technology includes a microprocessor, data access control, communications security and other functionality as programmed.


Data protection

Biometric passports are equipped with protection mechanisms to avoid and / or detect attacks:

  • Non-traceable chip characteristics. Random chip identifiers reply to each request with a different chip number. This prevents tracing of passport chips. Using random identification numbers is optional.
  • Basic Access Control (BAC). BAC protects the communication channel between the chip and the reader by encrypting transmitted information. Before data can be read from a chip, the reader needs to provide a key which is derived from the Machine Readable Zone [Mrz]: the date of birth, the date of expiry and the document number. If BAC is used, an attacker cannot (easily) eavesdrop transferred information without knowing the correct key. Using BAC is optional.
  • Passive Authentication (PA). PA prevents modification of passport chip data. The chip contains a file (SOD) that stores hash values of all files stored in the chip (picture, finger print, etc.) and a digital signature of these hashes. The digital signature is made using a document signing key which itself is signed by a country signing key. If a file in the chip (e.g. the picture) is changed, this can be detected since the hash value is incorrect. Readers need access to all used public country keys to check whether the digital signature is generated by a trusted country. Using PA is mandatory.
  • Active Authentication (AA). AA prevents cloning of passport chips. The chip contains a private key that cannot be read or copied, but its existence can easily be proven. Using AA is optional.
  • Extended Access Control (EAC). EAC adds functionality to check the authenticity of both the chip (chip authentication) and the reader (terminal authentication). Furthermore it uses stronger encryption than BAC. EAC is typically used to protect finger prints and iris scans. Using EAC is optional. In the EU, using EAC is mandatory for all documents issued starting June 28 2009.
  • Shielding the chip. This prevent unauthorized reading. Some countries - including at least the US - have integrated a very thin metal mesh into the passport's cover to act as a shield when the passport cover is closed.[4] The use of shielding is optional.


Since the introduction of biometric passports several attacks are presented and demonstrated:

  • There is a replay attack against the Basic Access Control (BAC) protocol that allows an individual passport to be traced [5],[6]. The attack is based on being able to distinguish a failed nonce check from a failed MAC check and works against passports with randomized unique identifiers and hard to guess keys.
  • Non-traceable chip characteristics. In 2008 a Radboud / Lausitz University team demonstrated that it's possible to determine which country a passport chip is from without knowing the key required for reading it[7]. The team fingerprinted error messages of passport chips from different countries. The resulting lookup table allows an attacker to determine where a chip is from.
  • Basic Access Control (BAC). In 2005 Marc Witteman presented that document number of Dutch passports were predictable[8], allowing an attacker to guess / crack the key required for reading the chip. In 2006 Adam Laurie wrote software that tries all known passport keys within a given range, thus implementing one of Witteman's attacks. Using online flight booking sites, flight coupons and other public information it's possible to significantly reduce the number of possible keys. Laurie demonstrated the attack by reading the passport chip of a Daily Mail's reporter in its envelope without opening it[9]. Note that in some early biometric passports BAC wasn't used at all, allowing attacker to read the chip's content without providing a key[10].
  • Passive Authentication (PA). In 2006 Lukas Grunwald demonstrated that it is trivial to copy passport data from a passport chip into a standard ISO/IEC 14443 smartcard using a standard contactless card interface and a simple file transfer tool[11]. Grunwald used a passport that did not use Active Authentication (anti-cloning) and did not change the data held on the copied chip to keep its cryptographic signature valid. In 2008 Jeroen van Beek demonstrated that not all passport inspection systems check the cryptographic signature of a passport chips. For his demonstration Van Beek altered chip information and signed it using his own document signing key of a non-existing country. This can only be detected by checking the country signing keys that are used to sign the document signing keys. To check country signing keys the ICAO PKD[12] can be used. Only 5 out of 60+ countries are using this central database[13]. Van Beek did not update the original passport chip: instead an ePassport emulator was used[14]. Also in 2008, The Hacker's Choice implemented all attacks and published code to verify the results[15]. The release included a video clip that demonstrated problems using a forged Elvis Presley passport that is recognized as a valid US passport.[16][17]
  • Active Authentication (AA). In 2005 Marc Witteman presented that the secret Active Authentication key can be retrieved using power analysis[8]. This allows an attacker to clone passport chips that use the optional Active Authentication anti-cloning mechanism. In 2008 Jeroen van Beek demonstrated that optional security mechanisms can be disabled by removing their presence from the passport index file[18]. This allows an attacker to remove - amongst others - anti-cloning mechanisms (Active Authentication). The attack is documented in supplement 7 of Doc 9303 (R1-p1_v2_sIV_0006)[19] and can be solved by patching inspection system software. Note that supplement 7 features vulnerable examples in the same document that - when implemented - result in a vulnerable inspection process.
  • Extended Access Control (EAC). In 2007 Luks Grunwald presented an attack that can make EAC-enabled passport chips unusable[20]. Grunwald states that if an EAC-key - required for reading fingerprints and updating certificates - is stolen or compromised, an attacker can upload a false certificate with an issue date far in the future. The affected chips block read access until the future date is reached.


Privacy activists in many countries question and protest the lack of information about exactly what the passports' chip will contain, and whether they impact civil liberties. The main problem they point out is that data on the passports can be transferred with wireless RFID technology, which can become a major vulnerability. Although this could allow ID-check computers to obtain a person's information without a physical connection, it may also allow anyone with the necessary equipment to perform the same task. If the personal information and passport numbers on the chip aren't encrypted, the information might wind up in the wrong hands.

On December 15, 2006, the BBC published an article on the British ePassport, citing the above stories and adding that:

"Nearly every country issuing this passport has a few security experts who are yelling at the top of their lungs and trying to shout out: 'This is not secure. This is not a good idea to use this technology'", citing a specialist who states "It is much too complicated. It is in places done the wrong way round - reading data first, parsing data, interpreting data, then verifying whether it is right. There are lots of technical flaws in it and there are things that have just been forgotten, so it is basically not doing what it is supposed to do. It is supposed to get a higher security level. It is not."

and adding that the Future of Identity in the Information Society (FIDIS) network's research team (a body of IT security experts funded by the European Union) has "also come out against the ePassport scheme... [stating that] European governments have forced a document on its citizens that dramatically decreases security and increases the risk of identity theft." [21]

Most security measures are designed against untrusted citizens (the "provers"), but the scientific security community recently also addressed the threats from untrustworthy verifiers, such as corrupt governmental organizations, or nations using poorly implemented, unsecure electronic systems. New cryptographic solutions such as Private biometrics are being proposed to mitigate threats of mass theft of identity. These are under scientific study, but not yet implemented in biometric passports.


European Union

European passports planned to have digital imaging and fingerprint scan biometrics placed on the contactless chip.[22] This combination of the biometrics aims to create an unrivaled level of security and protection against counterfeit and fraudulent identification papers. Technical specifications for the new passports has been established by the European Commission[23]. The specifications are binding for the Schengen agreement parties, i.e. the EU countries, except Ireland and UK, and the European Economic Area countries Iceland(part of Schengen), Norway and Switzerland.[24]. These countries are obliged to implement machine readable facial images in the passports by 28.08.2006, and fingerprints by 29.06.2009. The European Data Protection Supervisor has stated that the current legal framework fails to "address all the possible and relevant issues triggered by the inherent imperfections of biometric systems".[25] Currently, the British biometric passport only uses a digital image and not fingerprinting, however this is being considered by the United Kingdom Passport Service. The German passports printed after November 1, 2007 contain two fingerprints, one from each hand, in addition to a digital photograph. The Romanian passports will also contain two fingerprints, one from each hand. The Netherlands also takes fingerprints and is the only EU member that decided to store these fingerprints centrally[26]. In these EU nations, the price of the passport will be:

  • Austria (available since 16 June 2006) An adult passport costs €69.90, while a chip-free child's version costs €26.
  • Belgium (introduced in October 2004): €71 or €41 for children + local taxes. Passports are valid for 5 years.
  • Bulgaria (introduced in July 2009 ; will be available from March 2010): about €20 for adults. Passports are valid for 5 years. [2]
  • Czech Republic (available since 1 September 2006): 600 CZK for adults (valid 10 years), 100 CZK for children (valid 5 years)
  • Cyprus (not yet available):
  • Denmark (available since 1 August 2006): DKK 600 for adults (valid for 10 years), 115 DKK for children (valid for 5 years) and 350 DKK for over 65 (valid for 10 years). [3]
  • Estonia (available since 22 May 2007): EEK 450 (€28.76) (valid for 5 years)
  • Finland (available since 21 August 2006) €46 (valid for max. 5 years)
  • France (available since April 2006): €88 (valid for 10 years)
  • Germany (available since November 2005): ≤23 year old applicants (valid for 6 years) €37.50, >24 years (valid 10 years) €59.00 [4] Passports issued from 01 November 2007 on include fingerprints.
  • Greece (available since 26 August 2006) €76,40 (valid for 5 years)
  • Hungary (available since 29 August 2006): 6000 HUF (€24), valid for 5 years, 10000 HUF (€40) valid for 10 years.
  • Ireland (available since 16 October 2006): €80, valid for 10 years. Free for people over 65.
  • Italy (available since 26 October 2006): €44.66 for 32 page book, €45.62 for 48 page book, valid for 10 years. [5]
  • Latvia (available since 20 November 2007): An adult passport costs Ls15 (€21.53 [prior to June 25, 2008]), valid for 5 years.
  • Lithuania[6] (available since 28 August 2006) LTL 100 (€29). For children up to 16 years old, valid max 5 years. For persons over 16 years old, valid for 10 years.
  • Luxembourg (available since 28 August 2006) €30. Valid for 5 years.
  • Malta (available since 08 October 2008) €70 (Lm 30), for persons over 16 years old, valid for 10 years, €35 (Lm 15) for children between 10–16 years (valid for 5 years) and €14 for children under 10 years (valid for 2 years).
  • Netherlands (available since 28 August 2006): Approximately €11 on top of regular passport (€38.33) cost €49.33. Passports issued from 21 September 2009 will include fingerprints.
  • Poland (available since 28 August 2006): 140 PLN (€35) for adults, 70PLN for students, valid 10 years. Passports issued from June 22, 2009 include fingerprints of both index fingers.
  • Portugal (available since July 31, 2006 - special passport; August 28, 2006 - ordinary passport): €60 for adults (€50 for those who are over 65 years old), valid for 5 years. €40 for children under 12, valid for 2 years. All passports have 32 pages.
  • Romania (available since 31 December 2008): 266 RON (€67), valid for 5 years for those over the age of 6, and for 3 years for those under 6. This new passport includes both facial images and fingerprints.
  • Slovakia (available since 15 January 2008) An adult passport(>13years costs 33,19€ valid for 10 years, while a chip-free child's(5–13 years) version costs 13,27€ valid for 5 years and for children under 5 years 8,29€, but valid only for 2 years.
  • Slovenia (available since 28 August 2006): €36 for adults, valid for 10 years. €31 for children from 3 to 18 years of age, valid for 5 years. €28 for children up to 3 years of age, valid for 3 years. All passports have 32 pages, a 48-page version is available at a €2 surcharge.
  • Spain (available since 28 August 2006) at a price of €20. They include fingerprints of both index fingers as of October 2009. (Aged 30 or less a Spanish passport is valid for 5 years, otherwise they remain valid for 10 years).
  • Sweden (available since October 2005): SEK 400 (valid for 5 years)
  • UK (introduced March 2006 [7]) £77.50 for adults and £49 for children under the age of 16.) [8].
Unless otherwise noted, none of the issued biometric passports mentioned above include fingerprints as of 11 November 2007.


Albanian and a European Union biometric passport issued in 2009

The Albanian biometric passport is available since May 2009, costs 6000Lekë, (50) and is valid for 10 years. The microchip contains ten fingerprints, the photo and all the data written on the passport.


In April 2010 Armenia will introduce two new ID-documents to replace ordinary passports of Armenian citizens. One of the documents – ID card with electronic chip, will be used locally within the country, and the biometric passport to be used for traveling abroad. Electronic chip of biometric passport will contain digital images of fingerprints and photo of passport holder. [9] [10] [11]


The Australian biometric passport was introduced in October 2005. The microchip contains the same personal information that is on the color photo page of the ePassport, including a digitized photograph. Airport security has been upgraded to allow Australian ePassport bearers to clear immigration controls more rapidly, and face recognition technology has been installed at immigration gates.[27]

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Available since October 15, 2009 and costing 40 KM ( 20.51). Valid for 5 years. Produced by Bundesdruckerei.


The Bruneian biometric passport was introduced on February 17, 2007. It was produced by German printer Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) following the Visa Waiver Program's requirements. The Bruneian ePassport has the same functions as the other biometric passports.[28]


Canada has recently introduced biometrics in the use of passports with the help of digitized photos. The future passports may contain a chip that holds a picture of the person and personal information such as name and date of birth. In the 2008 Federal Budget, Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance announced the electronic passport will be introduced in 2011.[29] Passport Canada began a pilot project in 2009 for special and diplomatic passport applicants.

This technology is being used at border crossings that have electronic readers that are able to read the chip in the cards and verify the information present in the card and on the passport. This method aims at increasing efficiency and accuracy of identifying people at the border crossing. CANPASS, developed by Canada Border Services Agency, is currently being used by some major airports that have kiosks set up to take digital pictures of a person’s eye as a means of identification. [12]


Available since July 1, 2009 and costing 390 HRK (€53). The chip contains two fingerprints and a digital photo of the holder. Since January 18, 2010 only biometric passports can be obtained at issuing offices inside Croatia. Diplomatic missions and consular offices must implement new issuing system until June 28, 2010.

Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, biometric passports began to be issued in May 2004.

The Dominican Republic is the only country whose passport does not have the biometric symbol on its cover.

In Jan 2010, the cost of the passport was 1,250 DOP, about 35-40 USD at that date.

Hong Kong SAR

The Hong Kong Immigration Department has, from 5 February 2007, introduced the electronic Passport (e-Passport) and electronic Document of Identity for Visa Purposes (e-Doc/I) which are compliant with the standard of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Digital data including holder's personal data and facial image will be contained in the contactless chip embedded in the back cover of e-Passport and e-Doc/I.

Application fees & procedures remains unchanged. The Immigration Department pledges to complete the process of an application within 10 working days. For children under 11 year of age not holding a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card, the processing time is 19 working days. Existing HKSAR Passports and Documents of Identity for Visa Purposes will remain valid until their expiry. [30]


Available since 23 May 2006 and costing ISK 5100 (ISK 1900 for under 18 and over 67).


India has recently initiated first phase deployment of Biometric e-Passport for Diplomatic Passport holders in India and abroad. The new passports have been designed indigenously by the Central Passport Organization, the India Security Press and IIT Kanpur. The passport contains a security chip with personal data and digital images. Initially, the new passports will have a 64KB chip with a photograph of passport holder and subsequently include the holder's fingerprint(s). The biometric passport has been tested with passport readers abroad and is noted to have a 4 second response time which is less than that of a US Passport (10 second response time). The passport need not be carried in a metal jacket for security reasons as it first needs to be passed through a reader, after which generates access keys to unlock the chip data for reader access.[31]

On 25 June 2008 Indian Passport Authority issued first e-passport to the President of India, Pratibha Patil. The e-passport is under the first phase of deployment and will be initially restricted to Diplomatic Passport holders. It is expected to be made available to ordinary citizens from September 2010 onwards.[32]


On July 1, 2007, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran announced that the diplomatic biometric passports will be issued on July 10 this year. In 2008 there will be 15,000 biometric passport available to the frequent travelers. In the beginning of 2009 ordinary and service biometric passports will be issued on a regular basis to the public. Ordinary biometric passports cost 450,000IRR ($50USD)[33].


In April, 2009, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior - the general passports directorate revealed new electronic system to issue the new A-series passports in contract with the German SAFE ID Solutions, the new series is a biometric passport available to the public which would cost 25,000 Iraqi dinars or about $20 USD. [34].


On a press conference concerning the Lebanese election process in June 2009 the minister of interior announced that Lebanese government is in process to switch to the biometric passport, Due to newspaper reports , the lebanese ministery of interior searching for specilized companies in field of biometric passports in order to announce an international tender of the biometric passport this may be in early 2010.

Macao SAR

Applications for electronic passports and electronic travel permits have been started and processed since 1 September 2009.


Available since 2 April 2007 and costing 1500 MKD or c. €25.


Malaysia was the first country in the world to issue biometric passports in 1998, after a local company, IRIS Corporation, developed the technology. Malaysia is however not a member of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and its biometric passport does not conform to the same standards as the VWP biometric document because the Malaysian biometric passport was issued ahead of the VWP requirement. The difference lies in the storage of fingerprint template instead of fingerprint image in the chip, the rest of the technologies are the same. Also the biometric passport was designed to be read only if the receiving country has the authorization from the Malaysian Immigration Department.[citation needed]

Malaysia started issuing ICAO compliant passports from February 2010.


The Moldovan biometric passport is available from January 1, 2008. The new Moldovan biometric passport costs approximately 1250 MDL (€99) [13] and is not obligatory, as it remains valid along with the existing passports. The passport of the Republic of Moldova with biometric data contains a chip in which, additionally to the traditional information, the digital information, as well as the holder's signature are stocked.


The Montenegrin biometric passport was introduced in 2008. It costs approximately €40.


The Moroccan biometric passport was introduced in 2008. In December 2009, early limited trials have been extended, and the biometric passport is available from 25 september 2009 to all Moroccan citizens holders of an Electronic identity card. It costs approximately €25(250DH).

New Zealand

Like Australia or the USA, New Zealand is using the facial biometric identifier. There are two identifying factors - the small symbol on the front cover indicating that an electronic chip has been embedded in the passport, and the polycarbonate leaf in the back of the book inside which the chip is located.


Available since 1 October 2005 and costing 450 NOK for adults, or c. €50, 270 NOK for children.


Pakistan's NADRA achieved the hallmark of developing and implementing one of the first Multi-Biometric e-Passports. In 2004 NADRA enabled Pakistan to become one of the first countries in the world to issue the Multi-biometric e-Passport compliant to ICAO standards. NADRA has issued more than 7 million passports to Pakistani citizens until now.

Pakistan's Multi-Biometric e-Passport solution uses overt and covert security features on the data page supported by most sophisticated technology and business logic which makes it one of the most modern passports of this era. NADRA has developed expertise in centralized and decentralized e-Passport solutions to incorporate any feature as per clients’ specifications including integration of 4K, 8K, 32K, 64K, 72K RFID chip, Ghost Images, and LaTeX Screen printing. The system can help countries create a highly secure integrated system encompassing immigration, Automated Border Control and passport issuance while ensuring the genuineness of the holder as a valid citizen. The system requires minimum human intervention that ensures transparency while maintaining ease of exit/ entry of citizens without the holders being harassed unnecessarily. [14] The key features of Pakistan multi-Biometric passport includes:

  • PKI – Public Key Infrastructure
  • RFID Chip
  • Biometric features namely Facial & Fingerprint
  • IPI- Invisible Personal ID
  • 2D Bar code
  • Machine Readable Zone (MRZ)
  • Security Substrate and Laminate
  • Ultra Violet features Micro Printing
  • Holograms
  • Watermark Paper
  • Security Ink
  • 3 Colour Intaglio Printing
  • Guilloche Patterns


On August 11, 2009, the first biometric passport was released for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The new e-passport has various security features, including a hidden encoded image; an ultra-thin, holographic laminate; and a tamper-proof electronic microchip costing at around 950 pesos. [15][16]


Russian biometric passport was introduced in 2006. As of 2010, it costs 2.500 rubles or approximately 80 USD, use only printed data and photo (i.e. no optional fingerprint etc), BAC-crypted[17].


Available since July 7, 2008 and costs 2.200 RSD or approx. €23.5; replacing old passport of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia until December 31, 2009.[35] (Aged 14 or less a Serbian passport is valid for 2 years, for military obligated male persons aged 27 or less it is valid for 5 years, otherwise passport remain valid for 10 years).


The Immigation & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) of Singapore has introduced the Singapore Biometric Passport (BioPass) on 15 August 2006. Following this, Singapore has met requirements under the US Visa Waiver Programme which calls for countries to roll out their Biometric Passport before 26 October 2006 [18].


The new "e-passport" of Somalia was introduced and approved by the nation's Transitional Federal Government on October 10, 2006. It costs $100 USD to apply for Somalis living inside of Somalia, and $150 USD for Somalis living abroad. Somalia is now the first country on the African continent to have introduced the "e-passport". [19]

South Africa

South Africa now issues biometric passports to its citizens for ZAR200 as of 8 April 2009 to enhance security and to protect the countries visa waiver agreements.The passport contains an embedded RFID chip and polycarbonate data page and represents the latest technology available. Unlike other e-passports, the front cover does not contain the international standard symbol for biometric passports, possibly due to the covers been printed with the new coat of arms prior to the implementation of biometric passports and a reluctance to destroy thousands of preprinted covers.

South Korea

South Korea now issues biometric passports to its citizens as of 2007.


The Republic of the Sudan started issuing electronic passports to citizens in May 2009. The new electronic passport will be issued in three categories. The citizen's passport (ordinary passport) will be issued to ordinary citizens and will contain 48 pages. Business men/women who need to travel often will have a commercial passport that will contain 64 pages. Smaller passports that contain 32 pages only will be issued to children. The microprocessor chip will contain the holder's information in addition to fingerprints. Cost to obtain a new passport will be SDG 250 , and the validity of the citizen's passport will be 5 years, and 7 years for the commercial passport.[36]


The Swiss biometric passport has been available since 4 September 2006. It is still optional. The RFID chip contains only the photo, fingerprints will be introduced when an EU standard is fixed. From 1 March 2010 the new Swiss passport is available with a microchip containing a photograph and two fingerprints recorded electronically, the cost it is fixed to 140.00 CHF adult 60.00 CHF for children (-18 years old) [20]

Republic of China (Taiwan)

Available since 29 December 2008 and costing NT$1,200 [21]


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand introduced the first biometric passport for Diplomats and Government officials on 26 May 2005. From 1 June 2005, a limited quantity of 100 passports a day was issued for Thai citizens, however, on 1 August 2005 a full operational service was installed and Thailand became the first country in Asia to issue an ICAO compliant biometric passport.[22]


Upcoming new Turkish passports which are compatible with European Union standards will be released in June 2010.[37] Colours of the new biometric passports will also be changed. Accordingly, regular passports; claret red, special passports; bottle green and diplomatic passports wrap black colours.[38].

This apparently being the official line, nobody believes that the new passports will be in use anytime soon. Talks of newly designed biometric passports were in abundance within the past decade. Newspapers started giving the news back in 1990s, every time saying the passports are on their way. [23] That 'next year' has yet to arrive. [24]

Most recently Turkish minister of the Interior announced that the government is going to have to print the new passports at government minting office since the private contractor failed to deliver. The minister Mr. Besir Atalay said the new passports might be issued starting from the second half of the year 2010. [25]

Unless Turkish Government starts issuing machine readable passports by 1 April 2010 according to the ICAO mandate, Turkish citizens are going to be barred from air-travel.[26]

Another issue troubling Turks who wish to obtain a passport is the astronomical cost. TL 695.30 (approximately US$ 460) for a passport valid for 5 years. Not the new biometric passports, but the old fast-fading thick college notebook style passports. [27]


Biometric passports will be issued in Tajikistan from 1 February 2010. On August 27, 2009, Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs and German Muhlbauer signed a contract on purchase of blank biometric passports and appropriate equipment for Tajikistan [28].


Turkmenistan became the first country in ex-USSR mid-Asia region to issue an ICAO compliant biometric passport. Passport is available since 10 July 2008 [29].


Available since June 2007 and costing 170 UAH (about €16), valid for 10 years.[39]

United States

The U.S. version of the biometric passport (sometimes referred to as an electronic passport) has descriptive data and a digitized passport photo on its contactless chips, and does not have fingerprint information placed onto the contactless chip. However, the chip is large enough (64 kilobytes) for inclusion of biometric identifiers. The U.S. Department of State now issues biometric passports only. Non-biometric passports are valid until their expiration dates. [40]

Although a system able to perform a facial-recognition match between the bearer and his or her image stored on the contactless chip is desired, it is unclear when such a system will be deployed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at its ports of entry.[41]

A high level of security became a priority for the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001. High security required cracking down on counterfeit passports. In October 2004, the production stages of this high-tech passport commenced as the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) issued awards to the top bidders of the program. The awards totaled to roughly $1,000,000 for startup, development, and testing. The driving force of the initiative is the U.S. Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the "Border Security Act"), which states that such smartcard Identity cards will be able to replace visas. As for foreigners traveling to the U.S., if they wish to enter U.S. visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), they are now required to possess machine-readable passports that comply with international standards. Additionally, for travelers holding a valid passport issued on or after October 26, 2006, such a passport must be a biometric passport if used to enter the U.S. visa-free under the VWP.


Issued after July 2007, RFID chip has photo and fingerprints [30]


Covers of various biometric passports.


  1. ^ ICAO Document 9303, Part 1, Volume 1 (OCR machine-readable passports)
  2. ^ ICAO Document 9303, Part 1, Volume 2 (e-passports)
  3. ^ ICAO Document 9303, Part 3 (credit-card sized ID cards)
  4. ^ Metal shields and encryption for US passports
  5. ^ Defects in e-passports allow real-time tracking, The Register, Dan Goodin, 26th Jan 2010
  6. ^ A Traceability Attack Against e-Passports, Tom Chothia and Vitaliy Smirnov, 14th International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2010
  7. ^ Fingerprinting Passports
  8. ^ a b Attacks on Digital Passports
  9. ^ RFID-based Passports – What a bad bad idea
  10. ^ Belgian Biometric Passport does not get a pass
  11. ^ Hackers clone E-Passports
  12. ^ ICAO PKD
  13. ^ ‘Fakeproof’ e-passport is cloned in minutes
  14. ^ ePassport emulator
  15. ^ The Hacker's Choice ePassport tools
  16. ^ The Hackers Choice (THC) ePassport RFID Vulnerability Demonstration
  17. ^ Elvis has left the border: ePassport faking guide unleashed
  18. ^ ePassport reloaded goes mobile
  19. ^ Doc 9303 supplement 7
  20. ^ Security by politics - why it will never work
  21. ^ Budapest Declaration on Machine Readable Travel Documents, FIDIS NoE, Budapest, September 2006
  22. ^ "Decision-making under Pressure: The Negotiation of the Biometric Passports Regulation in the Council"
  23. ^ EC News article about the relevant regulations: Council Regulation (EC) 2252/2004, Commission Decision C(2005)409 adopted on 28 February 2005 and Commission Decision C(2006)2909 adopted on 28 June 2006
  24. ^ Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 of 13 December 2004, see preamble 10-14
  25. ^ Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States, 6 Aug 2008
  26. ^ Dutch government to store fingerprints
  27. ^ Australian Customs Service: SmartGate Frequently Asked Questions - What is an Australian ePassport?
  28. ^ Brunei passport becomes Biometric passport
  29. ^ Budget 2008: Responsible Leadership for Uncertain Times
  30. ^ The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - Immigration Department
  31. ^ After US tests, India to get first e-passport
  32. ^ [1]
  33. ^ :: حیات - رییس اداره صدور پلیس گذرنامه کشور: صدور گذرنامه الکترونیک به زودی آغاز می شود ::
  34. ^ :: استيراد منظومة لطبع الجوازات بطاقة إنتاجية تبلغ 10 آلاف جواز باليوم ::
  35. ^ Novosti - Ne žurite sa menjanjem pasoša Retrieved on August 4th 2008
  36. ^
  37. ^ (Turkish)
  38. ^ (Turkish)
  39. ^ Янукович придумав українцям нові закордонні паспорти / Українська правда
  40. ^
  41. ^

Further reading

  • Bela Gipp, Jöran Beel, Ivo Rössling ePassport: The World's New Electronic Passport: A Report About the ePassport’s Benefits, Risks and its Security. Scotts Valey:Createspace, ISBN 978-1434823182, 2007. The PDF of the book is available on the book's website for free.

External links

ICAO related information:

Free / open source utilities to read and copy passport chips:

  • GPL tool for RFID ISO-Readers
  • - Open Source RFID python library with e-passport test tools
  • - Open Source Java Card implementation of the e-passport and Java API
  • ePassport emulator - free software for cloning / making your own ePassport chip using JCOP v4.1 smartcards
  • eCL0WN - free software for reading and cloning ePassport chip content using a Nokia NFC-enabled cell phone
  • wzPASS - Open Source e-Passport reader software and wzMRTD — Open Source library for accessing e-Passports

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