Latvia has begun issuing Giesecke & Devrient-produced biometric enabled passports to its citizens that initially includes the holder’s digital picture for facial recognition with fingerprints to be added next year. The contract calls for issuance of some 1.1 million epassports by the end of 2011.
Munich–Latvian citizens began receiving their new biometric passports on November 20, 2007 – the first business day after Latvia’s main national holiday. In January 2007, Latvia’s Interior Ministry hired Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), a Munich-based security technology group, to produce and deliver 1.1 million electronic passports over the next five years.
Being the prime contractor, Giesecke & Devrient is responsible for system integration, from data capture to document personalization. In the beginning, the chip in the electronic passport (e-passport) will store the digital passport photo as a biometric feature for facial recognition. In 2008, two fingerprints will be added.
“Today’s kick-off of the Latvian passport production and delivery project marks an important milestone for us. We succeeded in presenting the entire chip-based passport system to the Latvian government right on schedule,” stated Hans Wolfgang Kunz, Group Executive for the Government Solutions business unit. “Installing entire e-passport solutions for millions of citizens as the prime contractor is a very complex project, as you might imagine. We’re proud of the fact that we successfully modernized the Latvian passport to conform to the latest EU and ICAO standards. Once again, we demonstrated our extensive experience with electronic ID documents following the e-passport roll-outs we engineered in Macedonia and Austria.”
In the course of the year, G&D in cooperation with selected subcontractors upgraded Latvia’s former machine-readable ID system to a highly secure system with biometric features that conformed to the requirements laid out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Union. The digital passport photo used for facial recognition will first be stored on the passport chip, which runs G&D’s StarCos smart card operating system. In mid-2008, two fingerprints will be added to provide even more security.
The electronic passport is an extension of the Latvian government’s already close business relationship with G&D. Back in 1991, Giesecke & Devrient was already supplying the Baltic state with travel documents and banknotes in cooperation with the Bank of Latvia.
About Giesecke & Devrient:
Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), based in Munich, Germany, is an international technology group operating subsidiaries and joint ventures throughout the world. Founded in Leipzig in 1852, G&D began as a printer of securities, and later specialized in banknote production. The company has been developing solutions and complete systems for automatic currency processing since 1970. Today, G&D is also a technology leader in smart cards, and a solutions provider in a wide range of fields, including telecommunications, electronic payments, identification, health, transportation, and IT security (PKI). In fiscal 2006, the Group employed some 8,300 people and generated a revenue of €1.3 billion. For more information, visit our Web site at www.gi-de.com.