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Sweden to start issuing biometric passports and e-ID cards in 2005
2004 09 23

The Swedish Government will start issuing its citizens with biometric passports in 2005. The new document will be consistent with the facial recognition standard adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and will fulfil the US visa waiver programme's requirements.

Finnish smart card and security printing company Setec – which currently supplies passports to Finland, Sweden, Norway and Lithuania – announced on 31/08/2004 that it had won an order from the Swedish Government to provide 5 million biometric passports over the next 5 years. The contract, which includes an additional two-year option, is worth approximately EUR 100 million. In addition to the biometric passports, the Swedish authorities will start issuing electronic ID cards in October 2005 under a similar 5-year contract with Setec.

The passports, which will be produced by Setec in Finland and personalised by its joint venture in Sweden, AB Svenska Pass, will feature a biometric identifier – a facial image of the holder – stored in a microchip. The Swedish authorities will first issue the new passports without the microchip, and start issuing the biometric passports in October 2005.

”I would estimate that in the next five years most of the European countries will make a purchasing decision concerning biometric passports. The agreement with the Swedish authorities strengthens our position in the European passport market, which is facing a very interesting phase of change and growth”, said Setec’s President and CEO Pekka Eloholma.

With the conclusion of the tender and subsequent order, Sweden became the second country in the world to actually decide to issue biometric passports that comply with the US visa waiver programme's requirements and the facial recognition standard adopted in May 2003 by the ICAO. Denmark, who should start issuing Setec-produced biometric passports by end 2004, was the pioneer in this field. Other European countries, such as Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, are currently at different stages of biometric passport design and testing.

Under legislation signed by United States President George W. Bush on 9/8/2004, countries whose citizens can enter the US without visas were given an extra year – until 26 October 2005 – to start issuing biometric passports.
© European Communities 2004
Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

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