Finland to pilot digital passports for contactless cross-border travel

PILOT SCHEME: Finland plans to trial the digital travel document on flights between the country and Croatia

Residents of Finland could be the first in the European Union to test the use of a digital passport stored on their mobile phone to verify their identity when they travel abroad, according to media reports.

The Finnish government is planning to trial the digital travel document on flights between Finland and Croatia in a pilot scheme supported by the European Commission as part of its ongoing initiative to develop an interoperable digital identity ecosystem and European Digital Identity Wallet.

During the pilot, participants will be able to receive and store a digital version of their passport or travel document on their mobile phone and send their personal information to the border authorities for advance verification before they travel.

Once they have submitted their digital travel document for verification, passengers taking part in the trial will then be identified at the airport border check by having their photograph taken but will still be required to carry their physical passport to confirm their identity by scanning it on a reader.

Initial step

“In the first step you have to flash the passport over the reader, but you don’t even have to open it. As a further development, it will probably be possible to use a phone instead of a passport,” Finnish Border Guard inspector Mikko Väisänen told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

“In the long run, the goal is to no longer need to carry a physical passport when travelling. However, its realisation takes time. The pilot project would be the first step in this matter.”

“Väisänen says that thanks to the digital travel document, the passengers will not necessarily need to carry a boarding card or other papers in the future. He could be recognised on the basis of his face, for example, when going to a plane or security check,” the newspaper adds.

If the EC approves funding for the pilot, testing at Helsinki-Vantaa airport “would start at the end of the year and continue until the end of next year”, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Germany and Spain announced they are to cooperate on the design, development and piloting of a cross-border digital identity ecosystem in August 2021.

The UK government revealed in July plans to implement a “contactless digital border” enabling the pre-screening of digital identity documents.

Finland to pilot digital passports for contactless cross-border travel was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.