New e-passports make life tough for forgers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2007, 12:00am

A new e-passport design using more than 40 anti-forgery features, including engraving the holder's name and personal data on an image of Tsing Ma Bridge, has been introduced by the Immigration Department.

The first batch of the passports, which will be issued next month, contain digital data including the holder's personal details and facial image in a chip embedded in the back cover.

Acting Director of Immigration Simon Peh Yun-lu believes the latest design will further improve security against forgery.

The design uses the latest engraving technology to record personal particulars and photographs on the polycarbonate, or plastic, bio-data page.

'We used to have lamination, which means counterfeit travel document manufacturers can replace the original bio-data page with a new one. But with the laser engraving technology, they cannot do that anymore,' he said.

'The quality of forged travel documents has never been good. With the new anti-forgery measures, it will be very difficult for criminals to make counterfeit documents.'

Local landmarks, such as the Convention and Exhibition Centre, are also featured on the new passport along with the Tsing Ma Bridge.

The assistant director of the Immigration Department for information systems, Raymond Wong Wai-man, said: 'These landmarks represent Hong Kong, so we put all these into our artwork and personalised the bridge by engraving personal data on it,'

Chinese painting and calligraphy are also featured. Four seasonal flowers - the spring peony, summer lotus, autumn chrysanthemum and winter plum blossom - are printed on every visa page.

The Chinese character 'wah', which means China or Chinese written in different styles of calligraphy, is also printed on these pages.

Applications for the new e-passports begin on February 5, and the department can handle 3,000 applications a day.

Charges for adults remain unchanged at HK$370 for a 32-page travel document and HK$460 for a 48-page one.

Passports in the old design will remain valid until they reach their expiration dates. The department has issued a reminder calling for applications to be made on a new form and for colour pictures of passport holders to be taken with white backgrounds.

The department's assistant director for personal documentation, Chung Lam-wai, said the production process for the e-passports was faster because of new technology. 'The number of working days to process an application can be shortened from the present 15 days to 10.'


Security features of the new Hong Kong SAR passport

1. Kinegram showing bauhinias and the five stars of the national flag

2. Permanent identity card number printed in trapezium shape

3. Wavy lines of micro-lettering containing passport holder's personal data

4. Multi-laser image: passport holder's facial image and passport number are shown alternately at different angles

5. Personal data engraved in microlettering on image of Tsing Ma Bridge

Other features:

Different seasonal flowers on every page

Chinese character wah, meaning China or Chinese, written in different calligraphy style on every page

Night scene with fireworks and the Convention and Exhibition Centre can be seen when the bio data page is placed under ultraviolet light