ePassports EAC Conformity & Interoperability Tests
Prague, September 7th - 12th 2008

Secure documents issuance and Automated Border Control in Portugal

As the world becomes more global, an ever increasing number of people are crossing frontiers everyday, travelling either in business or for pleasure, and sometimes just looking for new life opportunities in countries were they were not lucky to born. Just in the airports, over five billion passenger movements were made last year, with a major part implying border crossing.

Besides the requirement of helping people to cross frontiers, border control has also the burden of assuring higher security screenings of everyone passing control. Their officers have to allow fast movements of a large number of travellers while simultaneously proceeding to a large number of security checks in order to “let the good guys in and keep the bad guys out”.

The issuance of new secure passports, allowing electronic reading of data that can be securely validated and compared to biometric readings of the traveller, is already helping border control and making hard to forge these documents. The secure issuance of the Portuguese passport starts by a request of the citizen in one government office or embassy, after presenting its ID Card. Biographic data is automatically collected from the Central Civil Registration database and biometric data is acquired using a data acquisition kiosk available at this offices. The passport is then centrally issued in the National Print House and delivered in very narrow times rounding from 4 hours to 5 days.

It is well understood that issuance of secure electronic documents has to be fully complemented with secure validation of the document in all frontiers.

The Automated Border Control is a solution that allows the automatic reading of these new documents and of the citizen, and the through execution of all validations to the document, comparison of the biometric data and complete screening of authorizations of entry.

RAPIDS, the Portuguese Automated Border Control system is already helping travellers to quickly cross the Schengen frontier in the Portuguese airports. This system uses the first generation of electronic passports to validate both document authenticity and correspondence to the traveller presenting it, in totally human independent border entry runaways. The system has been successfully working since 2006 and is based in comparing the biometrics of the face in the electronic passport to the live photo acquired from the citizen. The system does not require previous registration as the valid electronic passport is the base for performing biometric validation of the traveller.

The new secure electronic passports and RAPIDS are helping Portuguese borders to raise security and performance. The resulting of Secure Passport Issuance + Complete Border Control is being truly more than the sum of parts.