June 30, 2005

e-Passport tests begin in US and Australia

A live test of e-passports that contain microchips with biographic and biometric information begins today at terminals 2, 4 and 7 of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and at Sydney Airport in Australia. The test will run from June 15th to September 15th, 2005.

Source: Using RFID

Volunteers participating in the test include airline crew and officials of United Airlines, Air New Zealand and Qantas Airlines. These volunteers will present their new e-Passports when arriving in the United States through LAX, or upon arrival in Australia through Sydney Airport. This article is copyright 2005 UsingRFID.com.

According to Jim Williams, Director of US-VISIT, a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) programme: "This live test of e-Passports is an important step forward in a larger effort to enhance security and facilitate travel through international cooperation."

US and NZ cooperation
The US Departments of Homeland Security and State (DOS) are working together on the test in cooperation with the governments of Australia and New Zealand. The test will assess the operational impact of using new equipment and software to read and verify the information embedded in the e-passports.

The e-passports contain the holders' biographic information and a biometric identifier (in this case a digital photograph) embedded in a contactless chip set in the passport. The inspection process for those airline crew and officials participating is the same as always, with one exception: they will present the e-Passports to the US Customs and Border Protection Officers, along with their current passports containing their visas.

The USA and other member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) have coordinated with equipment and document manufacturers to develop systems that can work together. They say the test is part of an effort to support countries around the world in their development and implementation of e-passports that comply with ICAO standards.

Extra security
The biometrics included in the chip provide a further means by which the identity of visitors can be securely and accurately verified, preventing entry by impostors and also fighting the use of fake identity documents.

According to Williams, US-VISIT's goals are to enhance the security of the country's citizens and visitors, allow legitimate travel and trade, ensure the integrity of the national immigration system, and protect personal privacy. The initial deployment of US-VISIT represents a tangible interim response to these challenges, although more still needs to be done for a complete automated biometric entry-and-exit system.

Roll out by 2006
US-VISIT entry procedures are now in place at 115 airports, 15 seaports, and in the secondary inspection areas of the 50 busiest land ports of entry. By December 31st, 2005, US-VISIT entry procedures are expected to be implemented in the secondary inspection areas of all remaining land ports of entry.

To date, more than 28 million visitors have been processed through US-VISIT without adversely affecting waiting times, and more than 600 criminals and immigration violators have been denied admission to the USA as a result of the biometric data stored.

For more information

Posted by keefner at June 30, 2005 04:51 PM