23 September 2023

Digital Technology Guru

Digital Technology Guru Reviews

Finland Launches World’s First Digital Passport Program

2 min read
Finland Launches World’s First Digital Passport Program

Finland has taken a significant step towards digitizing passports, becoming the first country to launch a fully digital passport pilot program. The program, set to run until February 2024, allows Finnish passengers flying with Finnair to use their smartphones instead of physical passports at border control when traveling to and from London, Edinburgh, and Manchester.

To participate in the program, passengers must download the FIN DTC app, short for Digital Travel Credential, register, sign a consent form, and have their photograph taken the police for facial recognition purposes. The DTC, essentially a digitized passport, is then stored on their phone. Passengers have a window of 36 to 4 hours before their flight to upload their travel information into the app.

The introduction of digital passports brings several benefits for travelers and airports, including increased efficiency and convenience. Cloud-based and entirely eliminating the need for physical documents, passengers can scan an app on their smartphones at designated checkpoints instead of waiting in line for manual passport checks border agents. The agents compare the traveler’s photo taken at the airport with the DTC photo taken during registration.

The Evolution of Passports

The concept of passports can be traced back at least 800 years, with the earliest examples dating back to the 13th-century Mongol Empire. However, the idea of a standardized global passport only emerged around a century ago, in 1920, when the League of Nations introduced the concept to control the flow of people and prevent conflicts.

Passports have evolved over time, with Malaysia issuing the first electronic passport in 1998. This marked the inclusion of a microchip embedded in the back cover containing biometric information. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) then adopted specifications for machine-readable travel documents (MRTD) in 2003, which included embedded microchips holding personal data and photos. Belgium and the United States followed suit with electronic passports in 2004 and 2006, respectively. Currently, over 160 countries utilize electronic passports.

The Pros and Cons of Digital Passports

Digital passports offer several advantages, including convenience and the streamlining of the travel process reducing wait times at border control. Verification of digital passports can be completed in seconds compared to the minutes required for traditional passport checks. Additionally, digital passports eliminate the risk of loss or theft, negating the need for emergency passport issuance. This process can take up to 10-13 weeks according to the US Department of State website.

– original source article