Personal touch for UK passports

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has appointed 3M to develop, test and implement the UK’s first biometric passport issuance system.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has appointed 3M to develop, test and implement the UK‘s first biometric passport issuance system. The new system will use biometric technology to prevent multiple passports from being issued to the same person under different identities.



3M will equip 104 British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions around the world with new passport issuance systems that can identify biometric information.



One in 10 British passports are issued outside of the UK. 3M claims that the new web-based 3M Identity Document Issuance System will ensure that these passports are as secure as those issued in the UK by the UK Passport Office.



The development of the new secure passports follows standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which recommends facial recognition as the primary biometric for travel documents.



British passports issued outside the UK beginning January 2006 will include facial recognition and individual demographic data in a microchip. Structural dimensions of facial features will be taken from passport photographs and converted into unique digital data on the chip. The chip also will include the individual’s demographic data including name, age and birthplace.



“The FCO’s pioneering work to ensure that multiple travel documents are not issued to the same person will be supported by 3M delivering a tailored technology solution. This is just the beginning. To complete the journey, all UK issued passports must become biometric,” commented David Cook, general manager, 3M Safety and Security Division.