Dutch experiment with biometric passports

31st August 2004, Comments 0 comments

31 August 2004 , AMSTERDAM — To comply with tightened US and European Union security demands, a trial in the use of biometric Dutch passports carrying a fingerprint and unique facial identity characteristics was launched in Almere on Monday.

31 August 2004

AMSTERDAM — To comply with tightened US and European Union security demands, a trial in the use of biometric Dutch passports carrying a fingerprint and unique facial identity characteristics was launched in Almere on Monday.

The experiment will continue until March 2005 and is designed to test whether new equipment will faultlessly recognise the rightful owner of the passport, Dutch public news service NOS reported.

Minister for Government Reform Thom de Graaf received the first biometric passport in Almere on Monday after his face was scanned and his fingerprint was taken. The cities of Apeldoorn, Eindhoven, Groningen, Rotterdam and Utrecht are also involved in the trial.

The experiment requires 15,000 people to apply for a new passport. They will receive a EUR 10 discount and besides the real passport, they will also be issued with a test document which cannot be taken home.

At the end of the trial period, all of the test passports — which will be used to check the accuracy of the new equipment — will be destroyed.

Security experts have already said that that the new system is not fool-proof, a fact recognised by Minister De Graaf.

Despite this, the Netherlands must start using the new biometric passports to comply with stronger security measures in the US to prevent terrorist attacks. The European Union is also imposing tougher regulations.

By the end of 2005, all domestically produced US passports will be biometric and US authorities are demanding that anyone who enters the US either has a visa or a biometric passport.

But it granted a 12-month reprieve on 9 August to the 27 nations participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Citizens of these countries can presently travel to the US without visas. But under a 2002 law, visas would have been required after 26 October 2004, unless the traveller had a passport with biometric security measures.

The US Congress has now extended the deadline for the biometric passports to 26 October 2005, giving the VWP countries time to develop them. The Netherlands is among the VWP nations.

It is not yet known exactly when the Dutch biometric passport will be officially introduced, but De Graaf expects they will be in use from the start of 2006.

The passport will help end the problem with look-a-likes. De Graaf explained that it is "fairly simple" for someone to travel the world, for example, with their twin brother's passport. "But we want to know for certain who steps in the plane," he said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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