Source: Giesecke & Devrient
Munich-based technology group Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) has been awarded a contract by the Latvian government to produce 1.1 million electronic passports (e-passports) over the next five years.
G&D will also supply all the necessary systems for data capture and processing, personalization, and issuing of the documents. The first electronic passports will be issued to the citizens of Latvia in the third quarter of 2007.
An EU member state since 2004, the Republic of Latvia is the second country (after the Republic of Macedonia) to choose G&D as prime contractor for issuing electronic passports. Latvia also joins Austria and Macedonia in deploying G&D's smart card technology for its new passports. As the prime contractor, G&D will handle all system integration activities for the Latvian government, as well as manufacturing and supplying the new electronic documents.
To maximize anti-counterfeiting security and prevent the fraudulent use of genuine passports, the new e-passports will feature a chip that stores biometric data. Initially, this data will comprise a digital photograph, but from 2008 onward, two of the passport holder's fingerprints will also be included. The chip makes it possible to electronically verify whether the person using the document really is the holder. The mandatory guidelines and recommendations for e-passports were developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an agency of the United Nations. The same recommendations are being used by the EU as the basis for introducing biometric passports. The passport developed by G&D meets ICAO and EU requirements and can therefore be used around the world.
The new contract for electronic passports further extends the close business relationship between G&D and the Latvian government. Since 1991, G&D has been supplying the Baltic state with travel documents and—in conjunction with the Bank of Latvia—with banknotes.