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Important Information about Biometric Passport (or ePassport)

Security has long been the first priority when it comes to travel papers. A new kind of passport was developed as a result of technological advancements. ones that have a microchip inside that holds the person’s specific personal information. We refer to them as ePassports, or biometric passports.

What is a biometric passport?

An biometric passport, which is another name for a ePassport, is a conventional paper passport that has been upgraded with an integrated microchip. A microprocessor in this microchip stores the personal information of the passport bearer. The addition of biological data, such as an iris scan or fingerprints, is what distinguishes it and gives it the moniker “biometric passport.”

The passport is still formatted like a paper passport even with the electronic chip inside. The microchip, which is usually located on the front or back cover, is incorporated into the passport without causing any noticeable changes to its familiar look or feel. It is identifiable as a biometric passport because to the unique golden chip logo on the front cover.

Biometric passports were introduced around the year 2000 with the intention of preventing identity theft and strengthening border security. Today, they are widely adopted, with most countries worldwide issuing them as standard travel documents.

What data is stored on the chip of a biometric passport?

The majority of the data on a biometric passport’s microchip is standardised and outlined by ICAO Document 9303.¬†

The microchip has the following contents:

  • Complete name
  • Birthdate
  • Face photo (the current norm is increasingly a full 3D map of the face)
  • Place of birth and nationality
  • Biometrics like iris and fingerprint scans
  • Unique chip ID
  • Data storage with a unique digital signature that guards against tampering and modifications

These can differ from country to country.

Are biometric passports and ePassports different?

No, there is no difference, biometric passports are the same as ePassports.The terms “passport with an electronic microchip containing biometric information” refer to the same thing.

Can a machine read a biometric passport?

Yes, a machine  can read a biometric passport.

The machine-readable zone (MRZ), which consists of the bottom two lines on the identity page, is still present in biometric passports.

In other words, all machine-readable passports are not biometric, but all biometric passports are machine-readable. Your passport may be biometric if you look for the golden chip logo on the front cover.

What are the signs that a passport is biometric?

It’s easy to determine if your passport is biometric even if the microchip is too small to be felt with the fingers and has no dents, curves, ridges, or lumps.

Check your passport by looking at the front cover. It is a biometric passport if the term “Passport” is followed by a tiny golden chip logo at the bottom. looking like this picture.

Benefits of biometric passport

It has some advantages over other passports.

Quicker entry and exit at borders

You might have encountered ePassport gates at major airports globally. If you have a biometric passport and don’t require a visa for your destination, you can take advantage of these electronic gates, ensuring a smooth passage through border control.

The lines at the e-gates are notably shorter compared to the queues at traditional human border officers, providing a quicker and more efficient process.

Enhanced Security

Because they contain a microchip, biometric passports are very safe. Because it has a special code, the information therein is far harder to copy or steal than it is from writing. Bypassing this degree of security is nearly impossible for identity thieves and fraudsters.

Meeting the requirements for entry or a visa

It is already required in some countries for travellers to enter or apply for a visa with a biometric passport.

One prominent example is the USA’s ESTA system, also referred to as the visa-waiver program. Starting from April 2016, all travelers planning to utilize ESTA must possess a biometric passport equipped with an electronic chip.

Similarly, the European Union’s visa-free entry system, known as ETIAS, will mandate applicants to hold a biometric passport. Although not currently operational, it is slated to be implemented by 2025.

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