UK Passports - UK Biometric Passports

Passports & Visa enquiry problems account for regular calls to HolidayTravelWatch. This brief guide provides basic information on how to deal with this difficult area:

The Basic Rules

  1. Make sure that you hold a valid Passport at the time of travelling and that it is valid for at least 6 months after returning to the UK.
  2. Write the details of your next of kin within the Passport.
  3. Take copies of your Passport; bring one with you when you travel, leave one at home with your relatives.
  4. Take another form of ID with you (preferably with a photograph).
  5. Remember children now require their own Passport.
  6. Check if you require a visa for the country that you are visiting.
  7. It is primarily your responsibility to ensure that you have a valid Passport & Visa.
  8. Remember there are different types of British Passports and if you have anything other than a British Citizens Passport you may require a Visa for the country you are visiting.
  9. Always check with the Passport Office and with the embassy of the country, you are planning to visit, to ensure you have the correct Visa or authority to travel.
  10. It is too late when you get to the airport!
  11. Holiday brochures and travel tickets place the emphasis on you although the ABTA Code of Conduct points to the information that should be given to you at the time of booking - never fully rely on this information - remember it is ultimately your responsibility!
  12. If in doubt, visit the Direct.Gov website for detailed information.
  13. Holiday brochures and travel tickets place the emphasis on you! If in doubt about passport issues, contact the Identity & Passport Service helpline - 0300222000
  14. All non British Passport holders should check with their own embassy and the embassy of the country you intend to visit, as to any Visa requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that your travel documents are valid.

Biometric UK Passports

Since the events of 11 September 2001, many countries are now looking at methods by which they can improve their ability to check the identity of its own citizens and those who are visiting their country. The United Kingdom is no exception. The United Kingdom Passport Service (UKPS) introduced Passports that provide a facial recognition image biometric in early 2006. It is understood that the biometric data is derived from a passport photograph and will be in accordance with international standards.

It is stated by the UKPS that the facial image biometric will help to counter identity fraud (e.g. duplicate issues), and will verify the identity of the holder. All passports for British Citizens will be renewed or issued to the proposed ID card standard.

The UKPS states, “The UKPS has been working with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to develop international standards for biometric deployment. ICAO nominated facial recognition as the primary biometric for travel documents with iris pattern and fingerprint as secondary but not mandatory.

In line with ICAO recommendations, the UKPS will deploy contactless integrated circuit media (i.e. a computer chip) of sufficient capacity to facilitate storage of the facial image and at least one additional biometric identifier. A contactless chip includes an aerial to allow close proximity readings, i.e. without being swiped through a reader. Modern contactless chips are paper-thin and therefore particularly suited to being incorporated in passport books or passport identity cards”.

The following link provides up to date and direct information from the former UK Passport Service, now known as the Identity & Passport Service, on the issue of UK Biometric Passports.

Tags: Passports Holiday Complaints Visas