A biometric passport, also known as an e-passport, ePassport or a digital passport, is a combined paper and electronic passport that contains biometric information that can be used 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 Organization's (ICAO) Doc 9303. 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 expensive and difficult to forge when all security mechanisms are fully and correctly implemented.
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 intend interoperability between different countries and different manufacturers of passport books.
- 1 Data protection
- 2 Inspection process
- 3 Attacks
- 4 Opposition
- 5 Transliteration of non-English names
- 6 Countries using biometric passports
- 6.1 European Union
- 6.2 Albania
- 6.3 Argentina
- 6.4 Armenia
- 6.5 Australia
- 6.6 Azerbaijan
- 6.7 Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 6.8 Brazil
- 6.9 Brunei
- 6.10 Canada
- 6.11 Chile
- 6.12 People's Republic of China
- 6.13 Colombia
- 6.14 Dominican Republic
- 6.15 Egypt
- 6.16 Gabon
- 6.17 Ghana
- 6.18 Hong Kong
- 6.19 Iceland
- 6.20 India
- 6.21 Indonesia
- 6.22 Iran
- 6.23 Iraq
- 6.24 Israel
- 6.25 Japan
- 6.26 Kazakhstan
- 6.27 Kosovo
- 6.28 Macao SAR
- 6.29 Macedonia
- 6.30 Malaysia
- 6.31 Maldives
- 6.32 Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- 6.33 Moldova
- 6.34 Montenegro
- 6.35 Mauritania
- 6.36 Morocco
- 6.37 New Zealand
- 6.38 Nigeria
- 6.39 Norway
- 6.40 Pakistan
- 6.41 Philippines
- 6.42 Qatar
- 6.43 Russia
- 6.44 Saudi Arabia
- 6.45 Serbia
- 6.46 Singapore
- 6.47 Somalia
- 6.48 South Korea
- 6.49 South Sudan
- 6.50 Sri Lanka
- 6.51 Sudan
- 6.52 Switzerland
- 6.53 Taiwan
- 6.54 Tajikistan
- 6.55 Thailand
- 6.56 Togo
- 6.57 Tunisia
- 6.58 Turkey
- 6.59 Turkmenistan
- 6.60 Ukraine
- 6.61 United Arab Emirates
- 6.62 United States
- 6.63 Uzbekistan
- 6.64 Venezuela
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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: 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 is aimed at identifying modification of passport chip data. The chip contains a file (SOD) that stores hash values of all files stored in the chip (picture, fingerprint, 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. According to a September 2011 United States Central Intelligence Agency document released by Wikileaks in December 2014, "Although falsified e-passports will not have the correct digital signature, inspectors may not detect the fraud if the passports are from countries that do not participate in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Public Key Directory (ICAO PKD). Only 15 of over 60 e-passport-issuing countries belong to the PKD program, as of December 2010"
- 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 fingerprints and iris scans. Using EAC is optional. In the European Union, using EAC is mandatory for all documents issued starting 28 June 2009.
- Supplemental Access Control (SAC) was introduced by ICAO in 2009 for addressing BAC weaknesses. It was introduced as a supplement to BAC (for keeping compatibility), but will replace it in the future.
- Shielding the chip. This prevents 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. The use of shielding is optional.
A typical workflow of an automatic border control system:
Since the introduction of biometric passports several attacks have been presented and demonstrated:
- 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. The team fingerprinted error messages of passport chips from different countries. The resulting lookup table allows an attacker to determine from where a chip originated. In 2010 Tom Chothia and Vitaliy Smirnov documented an attack that allows an individual passport to be traced, by sending specific BAC authentication requests.
- Basic Access Control (BAC). In 2005 Marc Witteman showed that the document numbers of Dutch passports were predictable, 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. 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.
- 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. Grunwald used a passport that did not use Active Authentication (anti-cloning) and did not change the data held on the copied chip, thus keeping its cryptographic signature valid. In 2008 Jeroen van Beek demonstrated that not all passport inspection systems check the cryptographic signature of a passport chip. 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 can be used. Only 5 out of 60+ countries are using this central database. Van Beek did not update the original passport chip: instead an ePassport emulator was used. Also in 2008, The Hacker's Choice implemented all attacks and published code to verify the results. The release included a video clip that demonstrated problems by using a forged Elvis Presley passport that is recognized as a valid US passport.
- Active Authentication (AA). In 2005 Marc Witteman showed that the secret Active Authentication key can be retrieved using power analysis. This may allow an attacker to clone passport chips that use the optional Active Authentication anti-cloning mechanism on chips – if the chip design is susceptible to this attack. In 2008 Jeroen van Beek demonstrated that optional security mechanisms can be disabled by removing their presence from the passport index file. 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) 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. 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 proponents 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 are not encrypted, the information might wind up in the wrong hands.
- "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."
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.
Transliteration of non-English names
Names containing non-English letters are usually spelled using the local script in the non-machine-readable zone of the passport, but are transliterated according to the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the machine-readable zone, e.g. the German umlauts (ä, ö, ü) and the letter ß are transcribed as AE/OE/UE and SS, respectively, thus Müller becomes MUELLER, Groß becomes GROSS, and Größmann becomes GROESSMANN.
The ICAO transcription is mostly used for computer-generated and internationally used documents such as airplane tickets, but in some cases (such as on US visas) English transliteration is used. German credit cards use in the non-machine-readable zone either the correct or the transliterated spelling.
The three possible spelling variants of the same name (e.g. Müller / Mueller / Muller) in different documents sometimes lead to confusion, and the use of two different spellings within the same document (such as in the passports of German-speaking countries) may give border agents unfamiliar with foreign orthography the impression that the document is a forgery.
Names originally written in a non-Latin writing system may present another problem if there are no internationally recognized transliteration standards. For example, the Russian name Горбачёв is transcribed "Gorbachev" in English, "Gorbatschow" in German,"Gorbatchov" in French and "Gorbachov" in Spanish (i.e. using the phonology of the target language).
Countries using biometric passports
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It is planned that European passport will have digital imaging and fingerprint scan biometrics placed on the RFID chip. This combination of the biometrics aims to create an unrivaled level of security and protection against fraudulent identification papers. Technical specifications for the new passports has been established by the European Commission. The specifications are binding for the Schengen agreement parties, i.e. the EU countries, except Ireland and UK, and three of the four European Free Trade Association countries – Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. These countries are obliged to implement machine readable facial images in the passports by 28 August 2006, and fingerprints by 29 June 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". Currently, the British biometric passport only uses a digital image and not fingerprinting, however this is being considered by HM Passport Office. The German passports printed after 1 November 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 plans to store these fingerprints centrally. According to EU requirements, only nations that are signatories to the Schengen Acquis are required to add fingerprint biometrics.
In the EU nations, passport prices will be:
- Austria (available since 16 June 2006): an adult passport costs €75.90, while a chip-free child's version costs €30. As of March 2009 all newly issued adult passports contain fingerprints.
- Belgium (introduced in October 2004): €71 or €41 for children + local taxes. As of May 2014, passports for adults are valid for 7 years.
- Bulgaria (introduced in July 2009; available since 29 March 2010): 40 BGN (€20) for adults. Passports are valid for 5 years.
- Croatia (available since 1 July 2009): 390 HRK (€53). The chip contains two fingerprints and a digital photo of the holder. Since 18 January 2010 only biometric passports can be obtained at issuing offices inside Croatia. Diplomatic missions and consular offices must implement new issuing system until 28 June 2010.
- Cyprus (available since 13 December 2010): €70, valid for 10 years
- Czech Republic (available since 1 September 2006): 600 CZK for adults (valid 10 years), 100 CZK for children (valid 5 years). Passports contain fingerprints.
- 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). As of January 2012 all newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- Estonia (available since 22 May 2007): EEK 450 (€28.76) (valid for 5 years). As of 29 June 2009, all newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- Finland (available since 21 August 2006) €53 (valid for max. 5 years). As of 29 June 2009, all newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- France (available since April 2006): €86 or €89 (depending whether applicant provides photographs), valid for 10 years. As of 16 June 2009, all newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- Germany (available since November 2005): ≤23-year-old applicants (valid for 6 years) €37.50, >24 years (valid 10 years) €59 Passports issued from 1 November 2007 on include fingerprints.
- Greece (available since 26 August 2006) €84.40 (valid for 5 years). Since June 2009, passports contain fingerprints.
- Hungary (available since 29 August 2006): HUF 7,500 (€26), valid for 5 years, HUF 14,000 (€48.50) valid for 10 years. As of 29 June 2009, all newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- Ireland (available since 16 October 2006): €80, valid for 10 years. (Not Signatory to Schengen Acquis, no obligation to fingerprint biometrics)
- Italy (available since 26 October 2006): €116, valid for 10 years. As of January 2010 newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- Latvia (available since 20 November 2007): an adult passport costs Ls15 (€21.36 [prior to 16, July 2012]), valid for 10 or 5 years.
- Lithuania (available since 28 August 2006): LTL 150 (€43). 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. As of 29 June 2009, all newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- Malta (available since 8 October 2008): €70 for persons over 16 years old, valid for 10 years, €35 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 include fingerprints. Dutch identity cards are lookalike versions of the holder's page of the passport but don't contain fingerprints.
- Poland (available since 28 August 2006): 140 PLN (€35) for adults, 70 PLN for children aged under 13, free for seniors 70+ years, valid 10 years (5 years for children aged below 13). Passports issued from 29 June 2009 include fingerprints of both index fingers.
- Portugal (available since 31 July 2006 – special passport; 28 August 2006 – ordinary passport): €65 for all citizens valid for 5 years. All passports have 32 pages.
- Romania (available since 31 December 2008): 302 RON (€67), valid for 5 years for those over the age of 6, and for 3 years for those under 6. As of 19 January 2010, new passport includes both facial images and fingerprints.
- Slovakia (available since 15 January 2008): an adult passport (>13 years) 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): €42.05 for adults, valid for 10 years. €35.25 for children from 3 to 18 years of age, valid for 5 years. €31.17 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 €2.50 surcharge. As of 29 June 2009, all newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- Spain (available since 28 August 2006) at a price of €25 (price at the 22 April 2012). 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 350 (valid for 5 years). As of 1 January 2012, new passport includes both facial images and fingerprints.
- UK (introduced March 2006): £72.50 for adults (valid for 10 years) and £46 for children under the age of 16 (valid for 5 years). (Not Signatory to Schengen Acquis, no obligation to fingerprint biometrics.)
- Unless otherwise noted, none of the issued biometric passports mentioned above include fingerprints as of 5 May 2010.
The Albanian biometric passport is available since May 2009, costs 6000 Lekë (€50) and is valid for 10 years. The microchip contains ten fingerprints, the photo and all the data written on the passport.
On 15 June 2012, the government announced the availability of a new biometric passport at a cost of 400 Pesos, valid for 10 years
In July 2012 Armenia introduced two new identity documents to replace ordinary passports of Armenian citizens. One of the documents – ID card with electronic signature and other personal data, is used locally within the country, and the biometric passport with an electronic chip is used for traveling abroad. Electronic chip of biometric passport contains digital images of fingerprints, photo and electronic signature of the passport holder. The passport will be valid for 10 years.
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. A standard (35-Visa Pages) adult passport (>18 years) is A$250 valid for 10 years; for children, the fee is A$125 valid for 5 years. A Frequent traveler (67-Visa Pages) adult passport (>18 years) is A$376 valid for 10 years; for children, the fee is A$188 valid for 5 years. SmartGates have been installed in Australian airports to allow Australian ePassport holders and ePassport holders of several other countries to clear immigration controls more rapidly, and facial recognition technology has been installed at immigration gates.
Azerbaijan introduced biometric passports in September 2013 and costing 40 AZN (~40 USD). The passports will include information about the passport holder's facial features, as well as his finger and palm prints. Each passport will also include a personal identification number. The program covers the development of the appropriate legislative framework and information systems to ensure information security.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Available since 15 October 2009 and costing 40 KM (€20.51). Valid 10 years for adults and 5 years for younger than 18. Produced by Bundesdruckerei. On 1 June 2010 Bosnia and Herzegovina issued its first EAC passport.
Brazil started issuing ICAO compliant passports in December 2006. However just in December 2010 it began to issue passports with microchips, first in the capital Brasília and Goiás state. Since the end of January 2011 this last is available to be issued all over Brazil. It is valid for 5 years for adults and costs R$156.07 (approximately €80). In December 2014, the Federal Police Department extended the validity of the document, from five to ten years.
The Bruneian biometric passport was introduced on 17 February 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.
Only the ePassport (Canadian Biometric Passport) is available to Canadians since 1 July 2013. Available for 5 years at a cost of $120 CAD or 10 year at $160 CAD.
Chile introduced new biometric passports and national ID cards on 2 September 2013. With a validity of 5 years in a new designed booklet.
People's Republic of China
On 30 January 2011, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China launched a trial issuance of e-passports for public affairs. The face, fingerprint and other biometric features of the passport holder will be digitalized and stored in pre-installed contactless smart chip in the passport. On 1 July 2011, the Ministry began issuing biometric passports to all individuals conducting public affairs work overseas on behalf of the Chinese government.
The Colombian foreign ministry announced that from the 31st of August 2015, new biometric passports will be issued. The only visible change will be the chip symbol on the front cover of the booklet.
In the Dominican Republic, biometric passports began to be issued in May 2004. However the Dominican biometric passports do not carry the "chip inside" symbol . In January 2010, the cost of the passport was 1,250 DOP, about 35–40 USD at that date.
The Egyptian Government 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.
Available since 23 January 2014. The Gabonese biometric passports carry the "chip inside" symbol ().
Available since 1 March 2010 and costing GH¢ 50.00–100.00 for adults and children. The passports contain several other technological characteristics other than biometric technology. However the Ghanaian biometric passports do not carry the "chip inside" symbol (), similar to the Pakistani passport, which is mandatory for ICAO-standard electronic passports.
In 2006, the Immigration Department announced that Unihub Limited (a PCCW subsidiary company heading a consortium of suppliers, including Keycorp) had won the tender to provide the technology to produce biometric passports. In February 2007, the first ePassport was introduced. The cover of the new biometric passport remains essentially the same as that of previous versions, with the addition of the "electronic passport" logo at the bottom. However, the design of the inner pages has changed substantially. The design conforms with the document design recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The new ePassport featured in the 2008 Stockholm Challenge Event and was a finalist for the Stockholm Challenge Award in the Public Administration categeory. The Hong Kong SAR ePassport design was praised on account of the "multiple state-of-the-art technologies [which] are seamlessly integrated in the sophisticated Electronic Passport System (e-Passport System)".
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, Nashik 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 – less than that of a US Passport (10 seconds). 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.
India has also given out a contract to TCS for issuing e-passports through passport seva kendra. India plans to open 77 such centers across the country to issue these passports.
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 2013 onwards. The necessary procurements have been initiated by India Security Press, Nasik, installed special machine churning 8 million biometric passports per year in 2010 and the actual transition to the new age passport is expected to begin in the year 2016.
Indonesia started issuing e-Passports on 26 January 2011, though the e-passport is not a mandatory until 2015. The passport costs Rp655,000(US$66) for the 48-page valid for 5 years, and Rp405,000 (US$41) for the 24-page passport valid for 5 years.
Iran started issuing diplomatic and service biometric passports in July 2007. Ordinary biometric passports began to be issued on 20 February 2011. The cost of a new passport is approximately $37 USD (1,125,000IRR) .
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 machine-readable passport available to the public which would cost 25,000 Iraqi dinars or about $20 USD.But not a biometric passport.
As of July 2013, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior will be issuing biometric passports for those citizens who wish to receive them. For a 2-year pilot period under the Biometric Database Law, this will be optional. After the program is reviewed in 2015, if the decision is made to continue, only biometric passports will be issued. As of August 2013, any passport expiring in more than 2 years can be replaced with a biometric one upon request, free of charge. Passports expiring within 2 years will be charged the full fee.
The Japanese government started issuing biometric passports in March 2006. With this, Japan has met requirements under the US Visa Waiver Program which calls for countries to roll out their biometric passports before 26 October 2006.
Kazakhstan introduced biometric passport in 2009.
In May 2011, the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Kosovo announced that biometric passports would be issued in the summer of 2011 after the winning firm is chosen and awarded the production of the passports. The first biometric passports were issued in October 2011.
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. €22.
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 first biometric passport did not conform to the same standards as the VWP biometric document because the Malaysian biometric passport was issued several years 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. Malaysia started issuing ICAO compliant passports from February 2010.
Maldives started rolling out its new ePassport to its citizens on 26 July 2006. The new passport follows a completely new design, and features the passport holder’s facial and fingerprint information as biometric identifiers. A 32-page Ordinary passport will cost Rf350, while a 64-page Ordinary passport will cost Rf600. Children under the age of 10 years and people applying for passports through diplomatic missions abroad will be issued with a 32-page non-electronic Ordinary passport, which will cost Rf250.
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Since 2005 the SMOM diplomatic and service passports include biometric features and are compliant with ICAO standards.
The Moldovan biometric passport is available from 1 January 2008. The new Moldovan biometric passport costs approximately 760 MDL (€45) and is obligatory from 1 January 2011. The passport of the Republic of Moldova with biometric data contains a chip which holds digital information, including the holder's signature, as well as the traditional information. It is valid for 7 years (for persons over 7) and 4 years (for persons less than 7) respectively. It was introduced as a request of European Union to safeguard the borders between the E.U. and Republic of Moldova.
The Montenegrin biometric passport was introduced in 2008. It costs approximately €40.
The issuance of the biometric passports was launched 6 May 2011.
It costs 115.68 US Dollar for issuance and is valid for five years only.
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 300DH (approximately €27).
Introduced in November 2005, like Australia and 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 front (version 2009) of the book inside which the chip is located. Cost: NZ$140 (when applying in person) or NZ$124.50 (when applying online—available only if already holding a passport) for adults, NZ$81.70 for children, valid for 5 years. However, in 2015 the New Zealand government approved for the reinstatement of a 10-year validity period for passports, which will come into affect on the 30 November 2015.
Nigeria is currently one of the few nations in Africa that issues biometric passports, and has done it since 2007.The harmonized ECOWAS Smart electronic passport issued by the Nigerian Immigrations Service is powered by biometric technology in tandem with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) specifications for international travels.
Travellers' data captured in the biometric passport can be accessed instantly and read by any security agent from any spot of the globe through an integrated network of systems configured and linked to a centrally-coordinated passport data bank managed by the Nigerian Immigrations Service.
The introduction of biometric passports to Norway began in 2005 and supplied by Setec, costing NOK 450 for adults, or c. €50, NOK 270 for children.
In 2007 the Norwegian government launched a ‘multi-modal’ biometric enrolment system supplied by Motorola. Motorola's new system enabled multiple public agencies to digitally capture and store fingerprints, 2D facial images and signatures for passports and visas.
In 2004, Pakistan became among one of the first countries in the world to issue the biometric passports, which are according to the publisher compliant with ICAO standards and dubbed Multi-biometric e-Passports, however they do not carry the "chip inside" symbol (), which is mandatory for ICAO-standard electronic passports.
As of 2012, Pakistan has adopted the Multi-biometric e-Passport that is now compliant with ICAO standards. 
On 11 August 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.
On 20 April 2008, Qatar started issuing biometric passports which are ICAO compliant. A Qatari passport costs QR200.
Russian biometric passport was introduced in 2006. As of 2015, it costs 3500 rubles (approximately USD 70), use printed data, photo and fingerprints, BAC-crypted. Biometric passports issued after 1 March 2010 are valid for 10 years. Russian biometric passports are currently issued within Russia and in all of its consulates.
From 1 January 2015 Government of Russia has issued passports which contain fingerprints.
On 21 June 2006, Saudi Arabia started issuing biometric passports which are ICAO compliant. A Saudi Arabian passport costs SR150.
Available since 7 July 2008, and cost 3.600 RSD or approximately €32. (Aged 3 or less a Serbian passport is valid for 3 years, aged 3 to 14 it is valid for 5 years, otherwise passport remain valid for 10 years.)
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) of Singapore introduced the Singapore biometric passport (BioPass) on 15 August 2006. With this, Singapore has met requirements under the US Visa Waiver Program which calls for countries to roll out their biometric passports before 26 October 2006.
The new "e-passport" of Somalia was introduced and approved by the nation's Transitional Federal Government on 10 October 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".
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea started issuing biometric passports to its citizens on 25 August 2008. The cost is fixed to 55,000 Won or 55 US Dollars, and the validity of ordinary passport is 10 years.
The Republic of South Sudan started issuing internationally recognized electronic passports in January 2012. The passports were officially launched by the President Salva Kiir Mayardit on 3 January 2012 in a ceremony in Juba. The new passport will be valid for five years.
From the 10 August 2015, the Department of Immigration and Emigration Sri Lanka has begun issuing ICAO compliant biometric passports to the public.
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. Cost to obtain a new passport will be SDG 250 (approximately US$100), 200 for students and 100 for kids. and the validity of the citizen's passport will be 5 years, and 7 years for the commercial passport.
The Swiss biometric passport has been available since 4 September 2006. By a narrow majority of 50.14%, Swiss voters decided in May 2009 to accept the introduction of a biometric passport. Since 1 March 2010, all issued passports are biometric, containing a photograph and two fingerprints recorded electronically. The costs are CHF 140.00 for adults and CHF 60.00 for children (−18 years old).
The Taiwanese biometric passport has been available since 29 December 2008. It costs NT$1,600 for an ordinary passport with either 3, 5 or 10 years validity. Taiwanese Central Engraving and Printing Plant prints passports for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan for several decades. During this period, the passport has been redesigned various times. The current e-Passport (or known as Biometric passport) is fitted with RFID technology that facilitates Taiwanese passport immigration clearances worldwide.
Biometric passports will be issued in Tajikistan from 1 February 2010. On 27 August 2009, Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs and German Muhlbauer signed a contract on purchase of blank biometric passports and appropriate equipment for Tajikistan.
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.
In August 2009, Togo became one of the first African countries to introduce the biometric passport. The price of the passport was then set at 30000 CFA Francs for the Togolese residing in Togo. For the Togolese residing abroad, the price varies.
The Tunisia ministry of interior stated that it will start issuing biometric passports at the end of year 2016.
Turkish passports which are compatible with European Union standards have been available since 1 June 2010. Colours of the new biometric passports have also been changed. Accordingly, regular passports; claret red, special passports; bottle green and diplomatic passports wrap black colours.
Most recently Turkish Minister of the State announced that the government is printing the new passports at government minting office since the private contractor failed to deliver.
The current cost of issuing a 10-year passport in Turkey is 587.50 TL.
Turkmenistan became the first country in ex-USSR, in mid-Asia region to issue an ICAO compliant biometric passport. Passport is available since 10 July 2008.
Issuance of Ukraine's biometric passports and identity cards is regulated by law that stipulates that biometric identity documents are to be introduced on 1 January 2013. However, in practice, Ukraine's biometric passports become available in January 2015.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE ministry of interior stated that it will start issuing emirati biometric passports at the end of year 2010.
The biometric version of the U.S. 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 first issued these passports in 2006, and since August 2007 issues biometric passports only. Non-biometric passports are valid until their expiration dates.
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.
A high level of security became a priority for the United States after the attacks of 11 September 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 travelling 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 travellers holding a valid passport issued on or after 26 October 2006, such a passport must be a biometric passport if used to enter the U.S. visa-free under the VWP.
In Uzbekistan, 23 June 2009 Islam Karimov issued a Presidential Decree "On measures to further improve the passport system in the Republic of Uzbekistan." On 29 December 2009 the President of Uzbekistan signed a decree to change the dates for a phased exchange of populations existing passport to the biometric passport. In accordance with this decree, biometric passports will be phased in, beginning with 1 January 2011. In the first phase, the biometric passport will be issued to employees of ministries, departments and agencies of the republic, individuals who travel abroad or outside the country, as well as citizens who receive a passport in connection with the achievement of a certain age or for other grounds provided by law. The second phase will be for the rest of the population who will be to able get new passports for the period from 2012 to 2015.
Issued after July 2007, Venezuela was the first Latin American country issuing passports including RFID chips along other major security improvements. The chip has photo and fingerprints data.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Biometric passport.|
ICAO passport standards and related materials:
- ICAO Doc 9303 Series. Machine Readable Travel Documents. Seventh Edition, 2015.
- International Civil Aviation Organization
- ICAO Document 9303, Part 2
- Supplement to ICAO Doc 9303 - Release_7
- LDS 1.7 PKI Maintenance
Open source and free tools:
- 'JMRTD' is an Open Source Java Implementation of Machine Readable Travel Documents
- 'RFIDIOt' is an open source python library for exploring RFID devices. The script mrpkey.py can read passport chips
- 'ePassport Viewer' is a GPL-friendly tool to read and checks ePassports
- 'epassport_emulator' is a freeware ePassport emulator for JavaCard and the Nokia Secure element