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UK's biometric passports go jumbo

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The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) has produced a larger version of the biometric passport.

The eJumbo, launched yesterday, has 48 pages compared with the 32 on the original ePassport. It will cost £77, while the regular ePassport costs £66.

A spokesperson said it has been developed largely for people who travel regularly and need more space for visas.

Home Office minister Joan Ryan said: "I am delighted that following the very successful switchover from digital passports to the new generation of more secure biometric ePassports last year, the Identity and Passport Service is now offering frequent travellers the new 'jumbo' 48 page ePassport.

"We are a nation of seasoned travellers, and issue more passports than any other country in the world bar the United States. 80 per cent of the UK population now holds a passport, and a record 6.6 million were issued last year alone. The 'eJumbo' will provide a popular alternative to the standard ePassport for Brits regularly travelling abroad, be it for work or pleasure."

The spokesperson said that about 60,000 Jumbo passports are issued each year, and the IPS expects a similar level of demand for the new biometric versions.

In 2006 IPS introduced the £66 32 page biometric ePassport, containing a secure chip storing the holder's personal details and a scan of their photo, as well as other improved security features. It said the new design is harder to forge, as the new security features show whether the passport is genuine or has been tampered with and the facial biometrics on the chip help link the passport holder to the document.

Security features include a watermark and a secure laminate that will rupture if peeled back on the biographical data page of the document. The visa pages have passport numbers which are laser perforated into the pages, a watermark, and fluorescent stitching thread.

About 4 million ePassports have so far been issued to UK citizens.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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