A biometric passport (also known as an e-passport, ePassport, or a digital passport) is a traditional passport that has an embedded electronic microprocessor chip which contains biometric information that can be used to authenticate the identity of the passport holder. 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 centre page, of the passport. The passport's critical information is printed on the data page of the passport, repeated on the machine readable lines 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.
Many countries are moving towards the issue of biometric passports. Malaysia was the first country to issue biometric passports in 1998. In December 2008, 60 countries were issuing such passports, which increased to 120 by June 2017.
The currently standardised 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. Document and chip characteristics are documented in the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Doc 9303 (ICAO9303). 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.
Some national identity cards, such as those from the Netherlands, Albania and Brazil), are fully ICAO9303 compliant biometric travel documents. However others, such as the United States Passport Card, are not.
- 1 Data protection
- 2 Attacks
- 3 Opposition
- 4 Countries using biometric passports
- 4.1 European Union
- 4.2 Albania
- 4.3 Algeria
- 4.4 Argentina
- 4.5 Armenia
- 4.6 Australia
- 4.7 Azerbaijan
- 4.8 Bangladesh
- 4.9 Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 4.10 Bolivia
- 4.11 Botswana
- 4.12 Brazil
- 4.13 Brunei
- 4.14 Cambodia
- 4.15 Canada
- 4.16 Cape Verde
- 4.17 Chile
- 4.18 China
- 4.19 Colombia
- 4.20 Dominican Republic
- 4.21 Egypt
- 4.22 Fiji
- 4.23 Finland
- 4.24 Gabon
- 4.25 Georgia
- 4.26 Ghana
- 4.27 Hong Kong
- 4.28 Iceland
- 4.29 India
- 4.30 Indonesia
- 4.31 Iran
- 4.32 Iraq
- 4.33 Ireland
- 4.34 Israel
- 4.35 Japan
- 4.36 Kazakhstan
- 4.37 Kenya
- 4.38 Kosovo
- 4.39 Kuwait
- 4.40 Laos
- 4.41 Lebanon
- 4.42 Lesotho
- 4.43 Macau
- 4.44 Madagascar
- 4.45 Malaysia
- 4.46 Maldives
- 4.47 Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- 4.48 Moldova
- 4.49 Montenegro
- 4.50 Mongolia
- 4.51 Mauritania
- 4.52 Morocco
- 4.53 Mozambique
- 4.54 Namibia
- 4.55 New Zealand
- 4.56 Nigeria
- 4.57 North Macedonia
- 4.58 Norway
- 4.59 Oman
- 4.60 Pakistan
- 4.61 Panama
- 4.62 Peru
- 4.63 Philippines
- 4.64 Qatar
- 4.65 Russia
- 4.66 Rwanda
- 4.67 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- 4.68 Saudi Arabia
- 4.69 Serbia
- 4.70 Singapore
- 4.71 Somalia
- 4.72 South Korea
- 4.73 South Sudan
- 4.74 Slovakia
- 4.75 Sri Lanka
- 4.76 Sudan
- 4.77 Switzerland
- 4.78 Taiwan
- 4.79 Tajikistan
- 4.80 Thailand
- 4.81 Togo
- 4.82 Tunisia
- 4.83 Turkey
- 4.84 Turkmenistan
- 4.85 Ukraine
- 4.86 United Arab Emirates
- 4.87 United States
- 4.88 Uruguay
- 4.89 Uzbekistan
- 4.90 Venezuela
- 4.91 Zimbabwe
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Biometric passports have 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, Document Security Object (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). As of January 2017, 55 of over 60 e-passport-issuing countries belong to the PKD program.
- 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)
- 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 unauthorised 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.
To assure interoperability and functionality of the security mechanisms listed above, ICAO and German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) have specified several test cases. These test specifications are updated with every new protocol and are covering details starting from the paper used and ending in the chip that is included.
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. In 2016 Avoine et al. published a survey on security and privacy issues in passport protocols, where a new technique to track passports is introduced, based on the response time of basic commands.
- 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 chip of a Daily Mail reporter's passport 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 Lukas 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 people 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.
Countries using biometric passports
It was planned that, except for Denmark, Ireland and the UK, EU passports would have digital imaging and fingerprint scan biometrics placed on their RFID chips. This combination of biometrics aims to create an unrivaled level of security and protection against fraudulent identification papers. Technical specifications for the new passports have been established by the European Commission. The specifications are binding for the Schengen agreement parties, i.e. the EU countries, except Ireland and the 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 and Irish biometric passports only use a digital image and not fingerprinting. German passports printed after 1 November 2007 contain two fingerprints, one from each hand, in addition to a digital photograph. 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. Passports are valid for 2 years after issuance for children up to the age of 1; 5 years for children aged 2–11; 10 years for citizens aged 12 and older.
- 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), CZK100 for children (valid 5 years). Passports contain fingerprints.
- Denmark (available since 1 August 2006): DKK600 for adults (valid for 10 years), DKK115 for children (valid for 5 years) and DKK350 for over 65 (valid for 10 years). As of January 2012 all newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- Estonia (available since 22 May 2007): EEK450 (€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 up to 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 and >24 years (valid 10 years) €59. Passports issued from 1 November 2007 onwards 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): HUF7,500 (€26), valid for 5 years, HUF14,000 (€48.50) valid for 10 years. As of 29 June 2009, all newly issued passports contain fingerprints.
- Ireland: Biometric passport booklets have been available since 16 October 2006, and Biometric passport cards since October 2015. 34-page passport booklets are priced at €75, 66-page booklets at €105, both valid for 10 years. For children aged between 3 and 18 years the price is €26.50 and the passport booklets are valid for 5 years. Infants' passport booklets for those under 3 years cost €16 and expire 3 years after issue. Irish biometric passport cards are only available to adults of 18 years and over who already have an Irish passport booklet and cost €35. They expire on the same date as the holder's Irish passport booklet or 5 years after issue, whichever is the shorter period. (Ireland is not a signatory to the Schengen Acquis and has no obligation or plans to implement 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 €28.46, or €21.34 if received together with eID, valid for 10 or 5 years.
- Lithuania (available since 28 August 2006): €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): 258 RON for citizens over the age of 12, 234 RON for citizens under the age of 12, valid for 10 years for those over the age of 18, 5 years for those over the age of 12 to 18, and for 3 years for those under 12. As of 19 January 2010, new passport includes both facial images and fingerprints. Temporary passports valid for only one year can be issued for the price of 96 RON and is issued in less than 3 working days.
- 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 €26 (price at 2018), free passports are issued for citizens that hold a "Familia Numerosa" document. 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.
- United Kingdom (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.
Issued since May 2009, costs 7500 Lekë (€60). Valid for 10 years. Contains fingerprints, the bearer's photo and all the data written on the passport.
Issued since 5 January 2012. Valid for 10 years for adults, and 5 years for minors.
Issued since June 2012, costs 1.500,00 pesos. Valid for 10 years
Issued since October 2005, costs AU$293. Contains the same personal information that is on the colour photo page, including a digitized photograph. Australia does not use fingerprinting of incoming passengers. Valid for 10 years for adults and 5 years for minors to 16 years.
Issued since September 2013. Contains information about the passport holder's facial features, as well as finger and palm prints.
Issued since April 2010, costing ৳3450 (US$41). Valid for 10 years. The electronic microprocessor chip embedded e-passport has thirty-eight different security features, including holographic images embossed in thin film laminate, which change colour under light. Demographic and biometric information of the bearer including the fingerprints of all ten fingers, iris scan and digital signature are stored in the passport. The Government of Bangladesh issues three different types of e-passports. These are diplomatic passports with a red cover; official passports with a blue cover; and regular or ordinary passports with a green cover.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Issued since 1 Feb 2019 and costing 550 BOB (USD79.13). Valid 6 years. The Bolivian ePassport has the same functions as the other biometric passports as regulations from OASI.
Issued since 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. Valid for 5 years for adults and costs R$156.07 (approximately €35). In December 2014, the Federal Police Department extended the validity of the document, from five to ten years.
Issued since 17 February 2007. The Bruneian ePassport has the same functions as the other biometric passports.
Issued since 17 July 2014. The cost for a 5-year passport, issued only to children aged five and under, is US$80; while the 10-year passport, issued to all people older than five, costs US$100.
Issued since 1 July 2013. Contains bearer's name, gender, and date and place of birth and a digital portrait of their face.
Issued since 2 September 2013. Valid for 5 years.
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.
Ordinary biometric passports have been introduced by the Ministry of Public Security starting from 15 May 2012. The cost of a passport is 200 CNY (approximately US$31) for first-time applicants in China and 220 CNY (or US$35) for renewals and passports issued abroad.
Effective from July 1, 2017, cost of a biometric ordinary passport is reduced to 160 CNY (approximately US 24) for both first-time applicants and renewal. As of April 2017, China had issued over 100 million biometric ordinary passports.
Issued since 1 September 2015, costing COP 166.000 (approx. US$51).
Issued since 5 February 2007.
Issued since 19 September 2019.
Issued since 21 August 2006.
Issued since 23 January 2014.
Issued since 2010. Valid for 10 years to adults, costing 100 Lari if issued at tenth business day. The same day issuance will cost 205 Lari. Price of the photo (3 Lari) needs to be paid additionally. There are discounts, e.g. 50% discount for persons under age of 18.
Issued 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 (), 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 biometric passport 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 category. 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)". The cost for a HKSAR passport is HK$370 (or US$48) for a 32-page passport and HK$460 (or US$59) for a 48-page passport.
Issued since 23 May 2006 and costing ISK5100 (ISK1900 for under 18 and over 67).
India has recently initiated the first phase deployment of Biometric e-Passport for all 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.
On 25 June 2008 Indian Passport Authority issued first e-passport to the then 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 available to ordinary citizens from 2017 onwards
Issued since 26 January 2011. The passport costs Rp655,000 ($66) for the 48-page valid for 5 years, and Rp405,000 ($41) for the 24-page passport valid for 5 years.
Issued since July 2007 for diplomatic and service passports, 20 February 2011 for ordinary biometric passports. The cost of a new passport was approximately US$37 (IRR1,125,000).
Issued since October 16, 2006.
Issued since July 2013. For a 2-year pilot period under the Biometric Database Law, this was optional. 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 program review that was supposed to be concluded in 2015 was postponed by order of the Minister of the Interior to a later date, due to the controversy regarding the creation of the Biometric Database rather than storing the biometric data only within the passport's chip, as is the practice in many other countries. Since 2015, the pilot period has been extended until 2017. In May 2017, the pilot period ended. Newly issued passports are required to be biometric.
To obtain a biometric passport, an applicant must appear in an Interior Ministry office "to be photographed by the special camera which records information such as facial bone structure, distance between one's eyes, ears to eyes and ratio of facial features one from another. One will also be fingerprinted and all this information will be contained in the new high-tech electronic passport."
Issued since March 2006. The passports meet requirements of the US Visa Waiver Program which calls for countries to roll out their biometric passports before 26 October 2006.
Kazakhstan has presented its concept at implementing biometric passport in 2009.
Issued since 1 September 2017. Contain fingerprints, facials and signature including other vital information, which is all ICAO compliant.
In mid July 2019, a few foreign embassies such as Berlin, Paris, London, and Washington DC started processing applications for Kenyans in the diaspora. Kenya plans to invalidate old style passports on 31 August 2020.
Issued since 31 October 2011.
Issued since March 2017. By late 2018 older non-biometric passports will no longer be valid for use.
Issued since September 2016.
Issued since August 1, 2016.
Date of introduction is uncertain. However, the enabling statute was tabled in November 2016.
Issued since 1 September 2009.
Issued since 1998. 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 authorisation from the Malaysian Immigration Department. Malaysia started issuing ICAO compliant passports from February 2010.
Malaysia used to issue passports with validity for 2 years and 5 years, but the passport with 2 years validity was withdrawn since January 2015.
The pricing for a Malaysian passport are RM 200 (approximately USD 50) with 5 years validity, RM100 (approximately USD 25) for senior citizens, children below 12, Hajj pilgrims, and students below 21 and studying abroad is RM100 and is free for disabled citizens.
Issued since 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
Issued since 2005 the SMOM diplomatic and service passports include biometric features and are compliant with ICAO standards.
Issued since 1 January 2008, costing 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.
Issued since 2008, costing approximately €40.
Issued since the end of 2016.
Issued since 6 May 2011, costs US$115.68. Valid for 5 years.
Issued since 2008 for trial, and in general since 25 September 2009, costs 500DH (approximately €47).
Issued since September 2014. The issuance of such passports was suspended 40 days later but was resumed in February 2015.
Issued since November 2005, like Australia and the US, 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. Like Australia, New Zealand has installed SmartGates into airports to allow New Zealand ePassport and ePassport holders of 4 other countries (Australia, Canada, UK, and US) to clear immigration controls more rapidly, and facial recognition technology has been installed at immigration gates. The cost is 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, which were valid for five years if issued before December 2015. However, in 2015 the New Zealand government approved for the reinstatement of a 10-year validity period for passports, with all passports issued after December 2015 being valid for 10 years.
Issued 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.
Issued since 2 April 2007, costs 1500 MKD or c. €22.
Issued since 2005, costs 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.
Issued since the end of 2014.
Issued since 2004, but without the "chip inside" symbol (). These have been compliant with ICAO standards since 2012. In May 2016, Pakistan's interior minister launched a project officially and promised that ePassports would be available fully in 2017 for citizens.
Issued since 2014, costs $100.
On 21 February 2016, the Superintendencia Nacional de Migraciones announced that the first Peruvian biometric passports would be delivered by 26 February 2016. It features a new cover, along with several security improvements, in order to be exempted for visas for the Schengen Area. It will cost PEN98.50, approximately USD28, making it the cheapest passport in Latin America.
Issued since 20 April 2008, costs QR200.
Issued since 2006. Since August 3, 2018, they cost 5,000 rubles (approximately US$80) and use printed data, photo and fingerprints and are BAC-encrypted. 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, the passports contain fingerprints.
Issued since 27 June 2019, and is in compliance with the new East African Community technical specifications as well as International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Among the new features include a microchip making it tamper-proof.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Issued since 4 March 2014.
Saudi Arabia does not issue biometric passports as of 26 March 2018.
Issued since 7 July 2008, costs 3.600 RSD or approximately €32. Valid for 10 years, 5 years for children aged 3 to 14, and for 3 years for children aged 3 or less.
Issued since 15 August 2006, costs 70 SGD if applied for online, by mail or ICA deposit box and 80 SGD if applied for via a Singapore Overseas Mission. Valid for 5 years. The passport now complies with the US Visa Waiver Program.
Issued since 10 October 2006, costs US$100 if applied inside of Somalia, and US$150 abroad.
Issued since 25 August 2008, costs 55,000 Won (US$55). Validity for 5 and 10 years.
Issued since 2008. The latest version was issued in 2014 and contains a contactless chip in the biodata card that meets ICAO specifications.
Since 10 August 2015. As at October 2016, all new passports require both thumbs to be scanned and a digital facial mapping photograph be taken during the issuing process. But no e-passport issued till end of 2019. 
Issued since May 2009, costs SDG250 (approximately US$100), SDG200 for students and SDG100 for children. Valid for 5 years, or 7 years for a commercial passport.
The new electronic passport are 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.
Issued since 4 September 2006, costs CHF 140.00 for adults and CHF 60.00 for children under 18 years. Since 1 March 2010, all issued passports are biometric, containing a photograph and two fingerprints recorded electronically.
Issued since 29 December 2008, costs NT$1,600 for an ordinary passport with either 3, 5 or 10 years validity.
Issued since 1 February 2010.
Diplomats and government officials passports issued from 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.
Issued since August 2009, cost then was 30,000 CFA francs. For 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 which did not happen.
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[when?] 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.
As of August 2019, cost of issuing a 10-year passport in Turkey is ₺945 (approximately US$160).
Turkmenistan became the first country in ex-USSR, in mid-Asia region to issue an ICAO-compliant biometric passport. The passport is available since 10 July 2008.
According to law, Ukraine was supposed to issue biometric passports and identity cards on 1 January 2013. However, they did not become available until two years later in January 2015 and are fully compatible with European Union standards.
United Arab Emirates
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 November 2018, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Delta Air Lines opened the nation's first curb-to-gate biometric terminal, which promised to improve aviation security while moving travelers faster through screening.
The Uruguayan Ministry of the Interior started to issue biometric passports to Uruguayan citizens on 16 October 2015. The new passport complies with the standards set forth by the Visa Waiver Program of the United States.
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 able to 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.
Introduced in June 2017.
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Media related to Biometric passports at Wikimedia Commons
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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[permanent dead link]
- 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