Finland state

Finland will become the first EU country to test digital passports

Finland has said it wants to test the use of digital travel documents in cross-border travel, becoming the first country in the European Union to do so.

Finland’s eagerness to test digital travel documents follows the European Commission’s wish that the pilot project be carried out by certain Member States in order to gather experiences which would allow to present a proposal for the implementation of a such project in all EU countries, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Such a project will be funded by the European Commission and the initial plan is to test digital travel documents between Finland and Croatia. However, funding still needs to be approved. Upon approval, the use of digital travel documents will be tested at Helsinki Airport.

Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat explains that Mikko Väisänen, Inspector of Finnish Border Guards, said that by using digital travel documents, border controls and the travel process in general will run smoother and faster.

According to Väisänen, the Finnish authorities are currently drafting a funding request for the Commission, which must be submitted by the end of August. He pointed out that it will be decided whether the project will be carried out or not only after the application for funding has been submitted.

Väisänen further explained that if the Commission approves the project, the authorities will provide a group of volunteers with a phone application containing a digital travel document. Thanks to this application, passengers will be able to send the information contained in their travel documents electronically to border authorities before their trip. However, they will still need to keep their physical passport with them during the pilot.

While this may not suit some in terms of privacy, Väisänen pointed out that holder information, which is verified in advance, will be deleted after travel.

In addition to the above, Väisänen explained that a photo of the passenger will be taken during border control.

“Ultimately, the objective is to no longer need a physical passport to travel. However, its realization takes time. The pilot project would only be the first step in this matter,” Väisänen said.

Väisänen asserted that if such a project proves successful, passengers would no longer be required to carry physical documents in the future, and at the same time, noted that the process would become much simpler.

The country is now waiting for the green light from the Commission. If the Commission approves funding for the pilot project, Finland will launch this experiment at the end of the year.