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Thales, Zetes contracted for embedded biometrics and forgery protections of new Belgian passports

Thales, Zetes contracted for embedded biometrics and forgery protections of new Belgian passports

The next generation of passports in Belgium will be produced by Thales and personalized with biometric and biographical data by Zetes under a new contract announced by the companies.

Like all electronic passports compliant with ICAO standards, the Belgian passport will contain an embedded contactless chip with biometric face and fingerprint data. Under the “Build, Operate and Transfer” contract, Zetes is responsible for the upfront investment in personalization, and is compensated based on the number of documents issued. Thales estimates an average of 550,000 passports per year will be produced.

The term of the contract with Belgium Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs (BUZA) is seven years, followed by three one-year options.

Zetes will also set up the public key infrastructure (PKI) required by the ICAO and the National Public Key Directory (N-PKD).

The new passport includes a redesigned visa page, and a modernized data page used in biometric authentication which is made entirely of polycarbonate. Security features such as laser-engraved pictures are included to prevent forgery and ID fraud, and the passport number will also be engraved across the hinge and data page.

Zetes was originally awarded a contract to personalize Belgian passports seven years ago, in collaboration with Gemalto, which has since become part of Thales.

“We are proud to work with Zetes to provide the Belgium Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs one of the most secure passports. To respect privacy and fight fraud, we have developed a unique passport design and modernized the data pages with rugged polycarbonate technology, making them extremely safe”, said Pierre Thepaut, VP Sales Europe, Thales Digital Identity and Security.

Belgium is also launching national eID cards with biometric data, also through a contract with Zetes.

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