Finland’s Digital Passport: Mobile Testing & Identity

While digital identity documents are slowly getting underway in France, at Helsinki airport, since this summer, a digital passport test in the phone has been carried out. It is possible to cross the border without having a physical passport. This is a world first.

It is the rehearsal before the general, the generalization to all of Europe. The Finnish authorities have been experimenting with digital passports since August 28, 2023, and the other countries of the European Union should follow little by little.

What will change is that upon arriving at the border crossing, instead of entering the serpentine to queue at passport control, there will be a special queue for those who have switched to this digital transport ticket . As in public transport, there will be a terminal, an application, Digital Travel Credentials, to download and open, then the phone to scan on a reader which will trigger facial recognition to verify the identity of the person. It will be much faster than currently, while remaining just as secure, according to those responsible for the system.

In the event of loss or theft of the phone, it will also be simpler than today. Currently losing your passport abroad forces you to take several steps which can take more or less time: file a complaint, request a pass, redo your passport when you return. With the digital version, recovering your passport will be as quick as reconnecting to your email account, the most complicated thing will be finding a new phone.

Objective: 80% of travelers equipped by 2030
The system is still in the testing phase, it is limited to a single company, Finnair, and a single airport, Helsinki. Croatia is also expected to join the tests in the coming weeks. All information will then be reported to the European Commission. So that in the spring, it can set a deployment schedule in other countries. Objective: that 80% of Europeans travel with this system by 2030.

France is very late. The digital identity card is still being tested and by only a handful of people, via the France Identity application. However, it is a prerequisite for the future e-driving license, its European version, and then, one day, the digital passport. The French will therefore have to be patient if they want to experience rapid border crossings.

The paper passport will not disappear, the digital version will be complementary, as with the identity card and the license. But it will be possible to keep the paper versions, warm at home, to avoid losing them.

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