Biometric passports progress in Turkey, Denmark, Suriname
Turkey and Suriname have unveiled their latest steps on biometric passports, while Giesecke+Devrient says the production of Danish electronic passports is on track despite supply-chain constraints. Germany signed a contract with BLS International to process North American visa applications with a remote biometrics-capture option as well. While countries continue to incorporate biometrics into passports, Israel cancelled a fingerprint retention requirement.
Turkey debuts domestically-made biometric passports, driver’s licenses
Despite chip shortages and logistical clogs, the government of Turkey revealed its line of locally-made biometric passports and driver’s licenses as part of a move to be self-reliant on its domestic industry.
The Daily Sabah reports that the Interior Ministry of Turkey showed off its biometric passports and driver’s licenses at an event in Ankara. The Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that the government recently finished a pilot production phase and is closer to serial production of e-passports, with plans for mass production in August.
The passport will contain a contactless chip running on an operating system developed by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey and will contain new security features, according to Soylu. The chip contains the holder’s biometric data like fingerprints, along with other identifying information like date of birth.
Soylu also detailed the biometric driver’s licenses, which he said will have two photos of the user instead of one. Holders of a slip of paper issued to former citizens named the ‘Blue Card,’ will be given a biometric card with a contactless chip.
The minister also said that Turkey is negotiating with Hungary on a deal to print each other’s passports as a backup.
Denmark biometric passport issuance is on schedule: G+D
“We are thrilled that the Kingdom of Denmark was able to start issuing the new ePassports on schedule,” says Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO of Veridos. “Citizens will receive state-of-the-art documents that are not only forgery-proof, but also allow them to cross borders easily and efficiently.”
The announcement refers to a contract awarded by the National Police of Denmark in 2021 to Veridos and partner idpeople to produce the biometric passports over seven years. It contains a chip that supports biometric fingerprint and face data while meeting security standards from the EU and International Civil Aviation Organization.
Suriname passes law authorizing new biometric passports
Suriname’s National Assembly passed a law to issue new biometric passports, according to the Jamaica Observer, joining other Caribbean countries.
The Jamaica Observer reports that biometric data from Suriname’s Central Bureau for Civil Affairs will be used to prepare the passports.
The Foreign Affairs Minister Albert Ramdin and Home Affairs Minister Bronto Somohardjo told the National Assembly that the passports will be more secure and protected against fraud. The Chairman of the Committee of Rapporteurs, Kishan Ramsukul, said the biometric passports will help process travellers faster.
Ramsukul also requested that the Suriname government explore the possibility of producing the biometric passports domestically, as the country is reliant on Vlatacom, a Serbian company, on ID cards.
Other Caribbean countries with biometric passports include St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Dominican Republic, according to the Observer.
BLS International to process North American visas for Germany
BLS International announced it signed a contract with Germany to process short-term and long-term visas in the U.S. and Mexico for seven years with a biometric service for a more convenient application.
Shikhar Aggarwal, joint managing director of BLS International, says, “We are delighted to initiate this new partnership with the Federal Foreign Office, Germany and committed to provide faster and convenient German visa services to the applicants in North America and Mexico regions. This contract strengthens our visa portfolio with yet another addition of Schengen government. I am confident of a seamless rollout and hope to strengthen this relationship with more such opportunities.”
The company will start its operations with eight cities in the U.S. and two centers in Mexico within six months. The U.S. cities are named as: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
The centers will offer services like visa outsourcing, translation, courier, insurance, and photocopying, and a mobile biometric service where applicants can submit applications from anywhere with an additional fee.
BLS International also offers biometric enrollment services for Nigerians living in the UK.
Israel extends fingerprint database, cancels requirement for passport
Israel’s parliament agreed to extend a fingerprint biometric database until June 30, 2023, largely fulfilling a request made in January by the country’s Interior Ministry.
Israel National News reports that the Knesset, Israel’s lawmaking body, approved of an extension of a temporary order to continue a controversial fingerprint database that Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said was needed to buy facial recognition technology to replace fingerprints. The fingerprint database faced criticism over improper data protection, which led to the Knesset ordering its deletion in October 2020.
Shaked also said that biometric documents will be valid for ten years, even if the citizen chose to not have their fingerprints stored in the database.
The extension does not meet the original request to continue the fingerprint database until 2025, however.
Israel National News also reports that the fingerprint biometric requirement for the country’s biometric passport was cancelled, though no further details were provided.