New Biometric Passsports

Athens News

Beginning in January 2006, local prefectures will no longer issue passports. In response to growing concerns about national and global security, the production and issuing of passports has been assigned to the public order ministry.

New passport offices will be set up in more than 100 police stations nationwide. Some 200 offices will be opened at Greek consulates and embassies a broad.

New biometric passports will be produced at a new central office in the eastern Athens suburb of Kessariani (8 Hiou St). The multimillion-euro technology necessary to mass-produce as many as 60,000 passports a day was purchased from Japan. The new documents will be harder to forge. Access to the high-security Kessariani office is off-limits to the general public.

The new digitized passport fulfils a European Council regulation approved in December 2004. The directive mandates the inclusion of a facial image and fingerprints in passports issued by all 25 European Union member states. The regulation is aimed at protecting passports against falsification and at harmonizing security features used in the production of the documents.

In compliance with recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organ is at ion (lCAO), the new passports will include an embedded 'contactless' radio chip that will store the biometric identifiers (digitized fingerprints and a face scan).

EU member states have until 28 August 2006 by which to include face scans in all new passports and until 28 February 2008 to include digitized fingerprints.

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