Biometric passportsUK's first biometric passports out this week

06 March 2006

This week will see the UK Passport Service issuing the first biometric passports to passport applicants.

In a bid to combat fraud and forgery, the new passports have security features including a chip containing the holder's facial measurements, taken from their passport photo . Details include the distance between your eyes, and the measurements for your nose, mouth and ears. Scanners at airports will match travellers' details to those on the chip, which will be secured to a passport page.

The new passport will also feature pages with intricate designs and new complex watermarks. Some people applying now will still get the old version, but all applicants will get the new one by September this year. Current passports will remain valid until their expiry date.

The current GBP 51 fee remains the same, for now, for the new passports.

'Improve security'

Home Office minister Andy Burnham said: 'Not only will [the new features] improve the integrity and security of British passports, they will also help in the detection of forged or manipulated documents while confirming the identity of the individual.

'Biometric technology makes use of the unique features we all have and there is no doubt that the use of biometric information to link a person to a passport will enhance security.

'In step with our European partners, we will also be considering the inclusion of fingerprints as well as facial data in due course.'

The new biometric passport will look like the current one, although it will feature a logo indicating that there is a chip inside.