Identity and Passport Service: introduction of ePassports, forty-ninth report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

This report examines how lessons learnt from the introduction of ePassports will be incorporated into future projects; the cost of authenticating applicants' identities; passport fee trends; the measures being taken by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) to hold down passport fees; and working with others to reduce costs and improve border security. An ePassport contains an electronic chip storing biographical data and a digital facial image of the passport holder. From 2009 new second generation ePassports will incorporate the fingerprints of the passport holder. Passport fees have risen ahead of inflation since September 2003 to fund ePassport technology and other projects intended to improve the security of the UK passport. From 2009 all passport applicants will have to attend in person to provide fingerprints for inclusion in second generation ePassports. The set-up cost of data collection, validation and storage necessary to introduce these changes will be substantial. During 2007 IPS has been introducing personal interviews at its 69 new interviewing offices for first time adult passport applicants. At least one of the 69 offices is intended to be within an hour's travel by public or private transport for 95% of the UK population (except in remote locations). But elderly and disabled people may still face difficulties in making the journey. With the introduction of second generation ePassports, all applicants will need to attend a local office to give their fingerprints. The long term durability of the chip embedded in the ePassport book is unproven.

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