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IPS completes biometric passport move

ePassport the 'most secure passport ever'

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The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) has completed its transition to the production of ePassports, replacing the production of traditional passports with those containing a facial biometric.

This means the UK has beaten the US Visa Waiver deadline for the introduction of ePassports, and means British citizens issued with passports after 26 October will not need visas to travel to the US.

The IPS also claimed to have passed a milestone with the issue of over 2.5 million ePassports since their introduction in March.

The new design comprises a number of security features, including a secure chip with the holder's facial biometric. The new format is harder to forge and helps show whether the passport is genuine or has been tampered with. The facial biometrics on the chip also help directly link the passport holder to the document.

Over 40 countries are already in the process of introducing ePassports. Facial recognition will be used to check passport applications against a database of known passport fraudsters, as well as being used to enable increasing automation and efficiency of border control and to render them more secure.

IPS executive director for service delivery Bernard Herdan said: "I am very pleased to able to announce that the Identity and Passport Service has completed switching all of its production to the new ePassport, the UK's first biometric passport. This new design, containing a secure chip holding an image of the bearer's face and the relevant biographical details, is the most secure passport ever issued by the UK.

"This has been a huge project involving the deployment of cutting edge technology, but we have taken great care and carried out the changeover to ePassports gradually over a period of months, at the same time as dealing with record levels of demand for passports.

"Since March we have issued over 2.5 million ePassports to British citizens, and with the end of digital passport production, all new British passports will now be ePassports."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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