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Iceland updates ID cards as Frontex warns of document fraud in EU

Iceland updates ID cards as Frontex warns of document fraud in EU

Frontex detected 22,300 fraudulent identity documents on the EU’s external borders in 2023, while Greece just seized almost 5,000 in a police action. Meanwhile, countries such as Iceland are updating their ID documents to include more stringent security features.

Iceland updates ID cards

Iceland is rolling out new identity cards with improved security features in line with requirements from the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The National Register of Iceland started issuing the new IDs last week.

“The appearance of the identity cards is based on a new standard from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and Iceland is the first country in the world to issue identity cards according to this new standard. The main change is that the portrait is much larger, which facilitates any comparison with the cardholder,” the agency says.

ICAO standards support face biometrics matching at borders.

The new cards will double as an alternative to passports within the European Economic Area (EEA), like other biometric ID cards across the EU.

More collaboration needed on identity: Frontex

More collaboration is needed along the identity chain at national and international levels with the ultimate goal of common standards for document and identity checking across the Schengen area and beyond. This was the conclusion of an annual meeting organized in February by the European border security agency Frontex.

In 2023, EU member states and countries within the Schengen Area detected more than 17,400 fraudsters on the EU’s external borders, using 22,300 fraudulent identity documents.

Cooperation in document and identity checks is already bringing results, including the Frontex – Interpol Electronic Document Library System (FIELDS). The system was designed to speed up document examinations by national border control agencies and provides structured and indexed visual references to documents and other security features.

The FIELDS system has been deployed in France and is currently being integrated in Croatia.

“To combat document forgery and impostors, the only way is through an integrated approach”, says Claudio Kavrecic, head of Frontex CED, adding that protecting the Schengen area will require harmonized procedures and processes and access to databases and information.

Future collaboration on common standards should involve law enforcement institutions, national law enforcement managers and experts as well as international organizations, the plenary meeting concluded.

Greece seizes 5K fake documents in police operation

Police in Greece have cracked down on a criminal network involved with document fraud and smuggling migrants, seizing almost 5000 false identity documents.

The operation, which was launched in collaboration with Europol, resulted in 11 arrests and the dismantling of four print shops, equipped with high-end laser printers and other equipment and materials.

The group has been operating from Athens since September 2023, providing high-quality falsified travel and identity documents that helped migrants to travel across the EU and legalize their stay at their destination country.

The documents were especially difficult to detect as fraudulent with prices ranging from 400 to 1200 euros (US$437 to US$1311), depending on their type and country of origin. The estimated market value of the 4,650 illegal documents was 600,000 euros ($655,671) Europol says in a press release.

The documents were forgeries of Belgian, Dutch, Danish, Finish, Greek, German, Italian, Hungarian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, as well as Colombian and Ukrainian documents.

Aside from the fake documents, the suspects also arranged smuggling by air with more than 50 connected cases investigated.

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