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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 04:30 GMT 05:30 UK
Electronic passports introduced
British passport
The passports provide "enhanced" security measures
All Britons applying for a passport will now be issued with the new, more expensive, ePassport.

The hi-tech document features a secure chip storing an image of the holder's face and "relevant biographical details" and costs 66 - a rise of 15.

The UK is one of more than 40 countries introducing ePassports, which will allow the use of facial recognition technology to fight passport fraud.

Some 2.4m of the documents have been issued since production began in March.

Switzerland: 219
New Zealand: 123
Belgium: 96
Norway: 87
Iceland: 81
USA: 54
France: 41

It is hoped they will be more difficult to forge than their predecessors.

Bernard Herdan, of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), officially announced that all production had switched to the new ePassport.

"This new design, containing a secure chip holding an image of the bearer's face and the relevant biographical details, is the most secure passport ever issued by the UK."

The electronic passports were introduced after the US demanded that 27 countries whose citizens enjoyed visa-free travel issue passports with a biometric chip.

Washington initially set a deadline of 26 October 2005 but extended it by a year after the EU complained many nations would have trouble completing the changeover in time.

Passport applicants face grilling
28 Jun 05 |  UK Politics

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