'Forgery-proof' SAR passports issued

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2003, 12:00am

New SAR passports with advanced security features will be issued from today even though few fake passports have been seized over the past five years.

The Director of Immigration, Lai Tung-kwok, unveiling the new passport yesterday, said it was almost impossible for the new passports to be forged and hoped they would become the world standard.

A logo in the pattern of 'HKSAR' is printed in optically variable ink across the left edge of the photograph. The colour of the logo changes upon viewing at a tilted angle.

Lamination of the passport has been made thinner, making it much more difficult to remove to change personal information.

The database format has also been changed slightly.

Mr Lai said it was impossible to buy the ink on the market and that only a few printing companies in the world had the ability to print the passport to such a high quality.

He denied suggestions that the document had been redesigned because of poor security features on the existing ones. Mr Lai also rejected fears that the SAR passports would become a target of forgers because it offers visa-free entry to 124 countries, including the European Union.

'It has nothing to do with faked passports. This is part of our continuing effort to upgrade the passport features to ensure that it is one of the most advanced in the world,' he said.

Since the handover, more than 2.13 million SAR passports have been issued out of about six million people eligible to hold the document.

The number of SAR passports issued is still fewer than the British National (Overseas) passport. There are about 3.44 million BNO passport holders with more than 500,000 renewals being made since July 1997.

The Immigration Department has seized 300 fake SAR passports since the handover while 7,000 losses have been reported.

Mr Lai said there was no need for people to upgrade their existing passports because they would still be recognised around the world.

The new passports will cost 15 per cent more to produce, he said, but the charges will not be passed on to the public. A 32-page SAR passport costs $320 and a 48-page one $460.




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