Your smartphone could be your next passport

Print Version
Share to a friend

Forgetting your passport on the way to the airport is one of the banes of modern travel, but those days

could soon be over.


De La Rue, the world’s biggest passport producer and the company that prints British banknotes, is

working on technology that could store passports within mobile phones, allowing travelers to do without

the burgundy booklets that have been around for hundreds of years.


The “paperless passports” could act in a similar way to mobile boarding cards, which can now be stored

on a smartphone, allowing a tourist to travel through an airport without documents of any kind.


However, the potential for forgery, the international barriers and the distinct possibility of losing one’s

phone mean the security challenges present big hurdles.


“Technology is at the forefront of De La Rue’s business, and as you would expect we are always looking

at new innovations and technology solutions for our customers around the world,” a spokesman said.

“Paperless passports are one of many initiatives that we are currently looking at, but at the moment it is

a concept that is at the very early stages of development.”


Modern passports already have chips in them that compare the carrier’s face to the one stored in the

passport, so one that sits inside a smartphone could embed this technology instead of merely

representing the document on a screen.


“Digital passports on your phone will require new hardware on the device in order to securely store the

electronic passport so it cannot be copied from the phone. It will also have to be communicated

wirelessly to passport readers, because doing it onscreen like an airline ticket QR code can be copied or

spoofed,” said David Jevans of security company Proofpoint.


De La Rue chief executive Martin Sutherland told The Times that it was already testing the concept

of paperless passports.