Finland became the first country to launch digital passports, aiming to streamline and enhance international travel. What do our Globe Aware volunteers think digital passports could mean for the future of travel?
Digital Passports Emerge As New Tourist Favourite. These Countries Are Early Movers
Several countries are developing digital passport projects, including Poland, South Korea, the US, and the UK.
Edited by Rahul KumarU
October 01, 2023
Finland became the first country to launch digital passports, aiming to streamline and enhance international travel.Finnish travellers departing from Helsinki to the UK now have the option to present a digital ID on their mobile device instead of their physical passport, according to Euronews. The Finnish Border Control has noted that this marks the first instance worldwide where a digital passport is accepted in a genuine border control setting, promising a more efficient and seamless travel experience.
The initiative was launched on August 28 in collaboration with Finnair, the Finnish police, and airport operator Finavia. The Finnish Border Guard is overseeing the trial, which will continue until February 2024 at Helsinki Airport's border control.
How do these digital passports function?
Interested travelers must initially download the FIN DTC Pilot digital travel document app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. To use the app, a phone screen locking method such as a PIN number, fingerprint, or face ID must be activated before installation.
Subsequently, travellers must register with the police at Vantaa Main Police Station's license services. This registration entails booking an appointment and presenting a valid physical passport to create its digital counterpart. During the registration process, individuals will provide consent and have a facial photo taken for facial recognition purposes.
Once registered, travelers can use DTC at Helsinki Airport when flying directly to the United Kingdom and returning to Helsinki Airport on Finnair flights until the trial concludes in February 2024. Before each trip, travelers must transmit their data via the app to the Finnish Border Guard 36 to 4 hours prior to departure.
Digital passports worldwide
Several countries have launched or are planning similar initiatives. In alignment with Finland, Poland, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom are also developing digital passport projects. Notably, in 2021, Ukraine granted digital passports the same legal status as physical ones.
Singapore introduced HealthCerts in February 2021, a digital health passport that securely stores and presents Covid-19 test results and vaccination records for travelers. Additionally, countries such as China, Estonia, and Israel have introduced digital vaccine passports.
Where India stands
On the occasion of Passport Seva Divas on June 24, 2023, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar announced the commencement of the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP-Version 2.0), which will include new and enhanced e-passports. Jaishankar emphasized the commitment to providing passports and related services in a timely, reliable, accessible, transparent, and efficient manner.