Lost Your Passport? You Can Now Take a Selfie to Replace It

Lost Your Passport? You Can Now Take a Selfie to Replace It
Design & Architecture

A new passport card system in the EU promises to reduce both hassle and expense

Rachel Pincus
  • 5 february 2015

The autumn after I graduated from college, I somehow wound up in London with no wallet and no passport. The process of getting the replacement involved several days of waiting, a visit to a small business that seemed to make most of its money off of passport photos, and a dramatic cab ride to the U.S. Embassy where I had to pay for everything in cash (a tall order considering my wallet situation). In an era of instant communications, an unprecedented ability to track and identify people and better payment methods, shouldn’t there be a better way?

eu passport selfies
In the U.S., we have a passport card that allows for identification and easy movement around Mexico and Canada, and the European Union is now following suit, offering a five-year passport card that offers an alternative means of identification at much lower cost and greater convenience – thanks, in part, to some selfies.

The passport card system, which should roll out around mid-July and cost €35, will include an app allowing users to take selfies meeting passport regulations and submit them for inclusion on the card. The Passport Service estimates that the cards will be cost-efficient enough to pay for themselves, from the perspective of taxpayers, within three years.

eu passport selfies
The cards also feature other, more typical security-oriented technologies, like an embedded hologram on the strip on the reverse side of the card, as well as thermochromic ink. Though the cards are making waves with their digital process of submitting information, they still need plenty of ‘analog’ security technologies to prevent forgeries.

So though the EU’s project is certain to make waves, there might be more roads to identification-document innovation on the horizon: Iowa and Delaware, for one, have announced plans for completely digital driver’s licenses that can act as a backup for traditional ones. These, too, will be powered by an app, developed by MorphoTrust USA, that would allow users to display more up-to-date information.

As state and local governments become more confident with the idea of digital ID cards, expect to see them crop up in more places soon.

Lead Image: Ryan Hyde // CC // Image altered

Pictures: Department of Foreign Affairs and Travel/PA Wire, Sam Greenhalgh’s UK National Identity Card (CC, non-modified), “Passport card” by U.S. Department of State

+MorphoTrust USA
+passport card system
+selfie passport
+thermochromic ink.

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