Passport and Visa Office logo

The new biometric passport

HMPO has introduced a range of procedures and systems to help prevent identity and passport fraud.

In 2006, the biometric passport was launched.

The biometric passport has a new design and improved security features which were not present on previous passports. The new pages have intricate designs, complex watermarks and a chip antenna.

From 4 October 2010 IPS issued an updated style, e-passport (version 2), to UK nationals. The personal details page (which includes the photograph) and the observations page have been moved to the front. The electronic chip, which includes the same information as printed on the personal data page, is in the back cover.

The idea behind the new design is that it would be difficult for criminals to forge or clone your passport with the new security features in place. If the passport is not genuine or has been tampered with, government agencies will be able to detect any wrong doing. The facial biometrics on the chip will help link the passport holder to the passport.

The chip in the new biometric passport is one of many new security features in place to help fight passport fraud and forgery. It is protected in the following three ways:

  • A digital signature to show the encoded data is genuine and which country has issued the passport.
  • A protection against unauthorized readings ("skimming") through Basic Access Control, a secure access protocol.
  • The data will be locked down using a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which provides protection against encoded data being changed. PKI is a digital encryption technology, which enables validation of the data as being genuine.

Cloning copying and fraud

Although generally computer chips can be cloned it is unlikely that a new style passport could be copied or forged by using cloning methods. Nothing can be deleted or changed on your chip which is what is needed to forge a passport.

Therefore it is unlikely that any attempt would be made to clone the passport as any copy or clone would still hold the original passport holder's information (as printed on page 31 of the passport) rendering the obvious differences between the two to be immediately noticed by officials.

Changing my Passport

Your current passport will remain valid until its expiry date. You will not need to exchange your passport to a biometric passport, but should apply for a new passport in good time as and when your current passport expires. It is best to allow three to four weeks for a passport application. See our Passport Plus Service. There are advantages in replacing you passport for a new style biometric not least for fast entry at Border Control and entry to the USA

I'm going to the United States do I need a new style passport?

Yes. All UK citizens will now be required to change to a digital passport or a biometric replacement. Please note the following:

  • Children must have their own individual passports to be eligible for entry to the USA in accordance with the new Visa Waiver Program
  • Your biometric British passport will qualify for the US Visa Waiver Program (US VWP) if the personal information page (the page containing your photo, your name and your date of birth) is on an inside page of the passport rather or on the inside back cover.
  • If your personal information page is on the inside back cover and was issued outside the UK, further information should be sought from US Embassy direct.

Sometimes we achieve the seemingly impossible!

B.H. - Wolverhampton: Lost passport replaced within 2 days and travelled to Jamaica.

S.G. - London: Lost passport. New 10 year passport delivered next day - made a flight to New York.

A.G.H. - West Sussex: Stolen Passport replaced in 48 hours and so travelled to Far East.     More Testimonials

Call us now for Fast-Emergency Passport and managed renewal services that are not available from Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) or Post Office. We are a qualified provider of Same Day Passport Services with over 30 years experience in handling urgent travel documents. We are not Her Majesty's Passport Office. Calls are recorded for accuracy and will assist improvements to the service we offer. Calls to this number may be charged at approximately 10p per minute excluding any relevant caller network charges (mobile phones etc).

Passport Renewal

Questions asked by our customers:

Personal and Travel Information

Passport Team

© The Passport and Visa Office.