What this means for travellers
What gives the ePassport an edge over the traditional passport book?
The ePassport is the next generation of travel documents and has many advantages:
- ePassports reduce the risk of tampering and identity fraud by adding more layers of identity checks within the passport, all of which must match.
- Adding a digital facial image on the chip enables machine-assisted verification (facial recognition) to confirm the identity of the passport holder at the border, if the necessary equipment is in place.
- By strengthening identity checks, ePassports reduce the risk of other countries imposing visa requirements on travellers. (Needing a visa can add up to $150 per trip, depending on the country.)
- Globally, ePassports enable automated border processing. At some Australian airports, certain travellers with ePassports can use automated customs and immigration kiosks called SmartGate.
- Canada's ePassport contains a digital security features that is unique to the Government of Canada. This mechanism helps border authorities ensure that the passport is authentic.
Impact on Passport Canada's services
The passport application process will not change significantly when the ePassport is introduced. However, as a fee-based agency, Passport Canada constantly studies ways to improve its services and updates the application process from time to time. For example, many of the suggestions provided by Canadians during public consultations are being considered. Improvements that cannot be made when the ePassport is adopted are being studied for the future.
Crossing the border with an ePassport
At a border inspection checkpoint, the border official opens the ePassport and places it on the ePassport reader (where available).
The reader scans the printed machine-readable zone (MRZ), which are the lines at the bottom of page 2. This allows the chip to be read, allowing the reader to access the data and check that it is authentic. The traditional security features of the passport are also checked.
If a traveller presents an ePassport at a border checkpoint that does not have an ePassport reader, it will simply be treated like a non-electronic passport. The MRZ will be scanned in the traditional way.
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