During the summer months, many of us will be travelling abroad. Travelling involves several considerations, most importantly, checking that you have your passport and that it is up-to-date. If you have recently applied for a new passport, you will notice that your passport is now an ePassport, as signified by this symbol:
It is clear that ePassports are now the rule rather than the exception and it is important to understand what they are, and what difference this makes to your travel.
What is an ePassport?
An ePassport is a biometric passport which includes a chip, which can be used at the automated ePassport gates instead of having your passport checked by a Border Force officer. The chip holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page: the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information. In some countries, including Germany, ePassports include two fingerprints as well.
ePassports are designed to increase security, making it more difficult to change data recorded on a passport and therefore limiting the chance of fraud. In addition, all e-Passports issued by Visa Waiver Program countries and the United States have security features to prevent the unauthorized reading or “skimming” of data stored on the e-Passport chip.
Who can get an e-passport?
Any valid citizen! They are available across multiple countries including the UK, France, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Korea, Singapore and the USA. Specific applications for ePassports will depend on your country. Application forms are typically on your respective government’s website.
Using your e-passport
At border control, individuals with an ePassport can go through the automated gates, which have their own lanes labelled with the ePassport symbol. However, under-18s cannot use the ePassport gates, so if you are travelling with children you will have to go through standard passport control. Once at the gates, you simply scan your passport on the sensor at the barrier. If you need more help, ANA Aeroportos de Portugal has published a video guide to this process.