What is ePassport?
ePassport is a computer-recognized passport that has an embedded contactless IC chip that contains personally identifiable information including name and passport number, according to the international standards defined by ICAO and ISO, as well as biometric information such as facial and fingerprint information. As personal exchange between different countries increase in volume, passport forgery can become the first step in international crime, terror or illegal stay, so ensuring security of passports has become an urgent problem. Accordingly, each country is introducing ePassports with strengthened security according to recommendations by ICAO.
ePassports make use of biometric technology, cryptographic technology and secure data storage (IC-chip), which are the strongest form of security and of identification. Forging ePassports is considered practically impossible.
Also, because in ePassport, only to the individual exclusive biometric information is stored, the reliability of identification is increased, which leads to not only accuracy in the board control process but also promptness, so ultimately, increase in convenience had by travelers is anticipated.
Machine Readable Travel Document ICAO
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is researching on the principles and technologies needed for international air transportation as well as on safety, as a specialized body of United Nations. It’s headquartered in Montreal, Canada. It was established on April 4, 1947 during the second world war, according to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (popular name: Chicago Convention), following advances in private aircraft.
It develops and enacts fundamental rules and technologies regarding international private aviation, with the advancement in aviation industry as its objective.
It is organized into general assembly, board of directors, executive office, and multiple subsidiary committees. The committees deliberate on aviation control, prevention of illegal interference, standards on border transgression and recommended methods, when it comes to international private aviation.
ICAO defines regulations regarding aviation accident investigation for countries that ratify the Chicago Convention.
Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTD)
A Machine Readable Travel Document (MRTD) is an international travel document (e.g. a passport or visa) containing eye-and machine-readable data.
Each type of MRTD contains, in a standard format, the holder's identification details, including a photograph or digital image, with mandatory identity elements reflected in a two-line machine readable zone (MRZ) printed in Optical Character Recognition-B (OCR-B) style. Standardization of elements in the travel document allows all participating countries inter-operability.
This "global inter-operability" of MRTDs facilitates inspection of international travelers at borders and generally enhances security.
MRTDs currently in existence include Machine Readable Passports (MRP), Machine Readable Visas (MRVs) and Machine Readable Official Travel Documents (TDs).
MRTDs are developed with the assistance of ICAO's Technical Advisory Group on Machine Readable Travel Documents (TAG/MRTD) with technical and engineering input from ISO Working Group.
ICAO's mandate to develop MRTDs is provided by Articles 22, 23 and 37 of the Chicago Convention which oblige Contracting States to develop and adopt international standards for customs, immigration and other procedures to facilitate the border-crossing processes involved in international air transport.
ICAO took the initiative in order to address the clearance of increased passengers’ volumes that came with the emergence of wide body aircraft, and published the first edition of Doc 9303 in 1980.
The following questions need to be answered when issuing and using ePassports.
- How to manufacture ePassports and deliver them to appropriate government ministries and offices?
- How to collect information of applicants, needed for production (personalization) of ePassports?
- How to issue and deliver ePassports to applicants?
How to do verification and identification using issued ePassports when entering and leaving the country?
These requirements give rise to the necessity of ePassports that satisfy them as well as the introduction of a related system.
The overall system of ePassport can be broadly divided into a few lower parts.
For ePassports, IC chip, COS, inlay, e-Cover, and so forth need to be manufactured according to physical regulations by ICAO-MRTD and ISO. To this end, the following systems are needed:
- Manufacturing Management
- Stock Inventory Management
- Delivery Management
For ePassports, information of ePassport applicants is gathered at authorized branch offices that the appropriate government office designated, and such information goes through confirmation procedures such as verification, identification, de-duplication checking, and revocation checking before being saved to and managed by the data center that the government office prepared.
For enrollment, a system that can collect designated information according to ICAO-MRTD and ISO regulations needs to be prepared, and such system needs to be specified for the following tasks:
ePassport Request Management (Application Form Submit, Identification, De-Duplication Checking, Registration, etc.)
- Photo Capturing
- Fingerprints Capturing
- Secure Data Management and Transfer
The government, through the collected information, checks whether to ePassport for applicants and the production data that is selected like this is delivered to the production center that the government office prepared. The government needs the following tasks for the production of ePassports, and needs to have a system appropriate for the task in place.
- Central and In-Branch Production
- Download Production Data from Central Data Server of Government
- Data Processing of Photo, Fingerprints, Personal Information
- Cryptogram and Digital Signature Processing
- Optical Personalization
- Electronic Personalization including IC Chip Encoding
- Audit Processing
- Produced (Personalized) ePassport Population (Distribution to applicants or holders)
When reviewing emigration immigration at authorized offices of the government or at airports, tasks such as authentication, identification and revocation-check need to be performed against ePassports. For this, in addition to the existing passport inspection system, inspection functions for ePassports are needed, which are as follows:
- Machine Readable Zone Reading
- Contactless IC Chip Data Reading
- Basic Data Authentication and Identification
- Biometric Data Identification
- Digital Signature and PKI Authentication
ePassport is a total solution provided by laminating main components of electronic passports, namely the chip, COS (Chip Operating System), inlay and cover. It is a very important part of electronic passports in manufacturing and issuance.
Because ePassports need to be compatible and in common use all across the world, reliability problems have been pointed out endlessly, and development of new technology to solve the technological problems of reliability, security and stability has been ongoing ceaselessly.
Therefore, considering the manufacturing environment (reliable manufacturing process, smooth supply of materials, etc), few combinations of components of ePassport (chip, COS, inlay, e-Cover) are needed.
The enrollment system refers to a total solution for collecting individual (personal) information, photos, fingerprints of applicants that want to get ePassport, which they can do at authorized departments or branch offices, and registering them to the centralized government data center.
- The following are the features of the enrollment system:
- Applicant’s Individual (personal) Information Collation
- Photo Capturing and encoding to digital data
- Fingerprint Capturing and encoding to digital data
- Identification and verification
- Data Encoding and storing in secure storage
ePassport is both an IC chip and ID issued to many people. Moreover, it plays the role as an international document. Therefore, ePassport personalization using the centralized production management system becomes very important, and as the IC chip is embedded, a higher standard of security becomes necessary, so managing IC chip encoding data has to be performed by an authorized central system as well.
The authorized central system needs to be constructed using the below components, and component systems corresponding to components are necessary:
- Controlling the production equipments
- Job Planning with the production equipments
- Interface with Central Data Center
- To request Product Lists (ePassport lists to be produced)
- To download Product Lists
- To Request Product per ePassport selected to be produced
- To download Production Data
- To upload Production Result (Success / Fail lists and audit data)