Initiated at the beginning of the decade, this European trend to make travel documents more secure has gained momentum thanks to:
- Council Regulation (EC) 2252/2004 of 13 December 2004
- The Commission’s implementing the decision of 28 February 2005 on the storage of the facial image of passport holders on the passport chip
- The Commission’s implementing the decision of 28 June 2006 on the additional storage of fingerprints on the passport chip
Twofold security purpose
By introducing biometrics in its citizens’ passports, the EU intends to improve the security of:
- the citizens themselves: by guaranteeing them a travel document that is almost impossible to forge, offering greater protection against identity theft
- other territories: by fighting against identity fraud, which is constantly on the rise and which affects many states.
A safe and tamper-proof passport
Since the end of 2013, Belgium is the 39th State participating in the Public Key Directory (PKD) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The PKD is an international system allowing the exchange of certificates for verifying the authenticity and integrity of electronic chips, for example in passports. This way, through a complex exchange of codes, the PKD member states can check whether any passport presented at their borders has actually been delivered by the official foreign authority. Thanks to the PKD, all attempts to tamper passports or to alter the data stored in their chip can immediately be detected at the border.
The External Borders Fund of the European Commission co-funded the Belgian accession to the PKD of the ICAO.