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Consular news – Embassy 15 – February 2009

Emergency passports upgrade

The Foreign Office has announced a security upgrade to its emergency passport system in order to minimise the risk of fraud.

The new documents, valid for one journey and issued by UK missions to Britons who lose their passports overseas, will be piloted for four weeks in July, then fully introduced by the end of the year.

Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) will comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation (CIAO) standards to ensure they are internationally accepted as a travel document. Emergency passports will look similar to a full passport, but with fewer pages and a different colour.

ETDs are the first phase of the British Identity Document Generating Equipment (Bridge) project, which will see the FCO ending all manual production of passports.

Currently, British missions receive blank passports - which have a high value if stolen - but in future consuls will pass the details, including biometric information, to the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) which will produce biometric emergency passports in Britain.

IT services firm Logica, along with partners De La Rue and WorldReach Software, will deliver the Bridge programme. It will ensure ETDs can be issued fast, allowing secure and more efficient cross-border travel for UK citizens in distress.

Julian Braithwaite, the FCO's director of consular services, said the system would modernise Britain's overseas passport operation, "providing both a more robust, efficient and secure issuing process and a better service to British nationals overseas."

To learn more about secure document technology, visit the Security Document World Conference on 26-27 March at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. Embassy magazine is a media partner. Visit www.embassymagazine.com for details.
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