Finland introduces digital passport, the first in the world

Only Finnish citizens flying on Finnair to and from London, Manchester, and Edinburg can avail of the facility. Photo: ImYanis/Shutterstock

Many travellers prefer showing seat reservations on phones rather than producing tickets physically while travelling in buses and trains. Well, you could soon be able to flaunt your smartphone instead of physically carrying passports when you fly out of the country.

In fact, Finland has introduced fully digital passports on a trial basis, the world’s first country to do so. Besides sparing long queues for flyers, the technology-aided initiative could make journeys swifter and more comfortable.

The northern European nation rolled out the facility a few weeks ago in a tie-up with national flag carrier Finnair, airport operator Finavia, and the Finnish Police. The trial will continue until February 2024. Only Finnish citizens flying on Finnair to and from London, Manchester, and Edinburg can avail of the facility.

For this, the travellers need to first download the ‘FIN DTC pilot travel document app, then register with the police, sign a consent form and have their photograph taken by the cops for facial recognition. Upon registration, the passengers can upload their journey details to the app.

The flyers need not stand in the queue for passport verification. Instead, they can scan the app on their smartphones at designated checkpoints. The personal identities will be then reconfirmed by matching the photo of a traveller taken at the airport with that they took at the time of registering with the police. However, since the Digital Travel Credentials (DTC) system is at the experimental stage, the flyers need to carry their passports along with them as of now.

The digital passports have so many advantages. It will help cut down the waiting time of flyers at various airports, and make travel an enjoyable experience. Several minutes will be consumed for the verification of each traditional passport, including the e-passports that have biometric chips. But that of the digital passports can be done within seconds. Also, there is no possibility of the passport getting lost or stolen.

The one potential risk is that hackers could steal passport data and misuse the same. The Finnish experts are examining the same.

Though the concept of Digital Passport is not new, this is the first time that complete digitalization of passports is being done. The Finnish passport is currently the third most powerful travel document in the world. Countries like Poland, South Korea, Australia, the UK, and the US are also working on similar passport digitalization initiatives.

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