As the pandemic drags on, there are signs of life in passport issuance − either to catch up on backlogged production, or to resume new program activity. With production ramping up, we need to stay one step ahead of the bad actors who are working to exploit security vulnerabilities.

How exactly to do that is a challenge! Here are some trending approaches to consider.

Polycarbonate

One trend we’ve observed is a shift from passport books with a paper data page to books with a polycarbonate data page.  Polycarbonate has many advantages, including higher durability and security.  As the European Union Regulation 2019/1157 takes effect, this trend may accelerate. This major initiative is aimed at increasing security, durability, and protection against fraud for key card credentials such as national IDs and resident permits. The regulation, which took effect in August 2021, requires new card designs to achieve a 10-year life (with specific mention of polycarbonate substrates), use of machine-readable zones (MRZs), biographical data stored on the chip, such as the portrait and two fingerprints, and laser engraving.  This isn’t a passport mandate, but as governments gain experience with polycarbonate card substrates, I expect to see more polycarbonate used for passport data pages, both inside and beyond the EU borders.  Additional benefits such as Drop on Demand printing or proprietary options are now available for color portraits on a polycarbonate data page, thus convincing governments who prefer a color portrait to make the switch.

Layered security features

Layering physical security features on a passport can make the passport harder to attack.  One excellent example is Laser and Color where the color technology is Drop on Demand Printing.  The laser technology prints the passport’s biographical information, the MRZ and the black part of the primary portrait.  The rest of the color image is added using the Drop on Demand printing technology.  When and if the primary portrait is attacked, the laser portrait remains visible under infrared lighting, and is easily verified with the portrait on the chip.

Using STOP features

Blank passport books are chock full of high security elements – ultraviolet fluorescent threads, proprietary hinge designs, microprinting, and color shifting elements to name a few.  Blank passport books are a target for thieves.   Personalizing a genuine book with false information can make it difficult to detect.  As a result, it’s important to add additional security features during the personalization stage.  STOP (Security at Time of Personalization™) features add an important layer of security to the final printed passport.

All passports have at least one STOP feature – the portrait.  Varying the technology between the passport’s primary portrait and additional portraits makes it more difficult to counterfeit.  Adding security elements created out of personalization data (Surname, date of birth) protects the passport.

Are you looking for ways to update your passport program and heighten your document security? Visit our website to learn about our newest addition to our passport platform: https://www.entrust.com/issuance-systems/products/central/passport-issuance/datacard-pb8500-passport-issuance-system.

Entrust is also innovating in other areas of passport technology.  Read more about our work with Digital Travel Credentials here: https://www.entrust.com/solutions/industries/government/seamless-travel