First biometric passports issued to UK travellers

THE first biometric e-passports will be issued to applicants this week, the Home Office has announced.

The new-style passports have added security features, including a chip holding the carrier's facial details, in a bid to combat fraud and forgery.

The Home Office minister Andy Burnham said: "Not only will they improve the integrity and security of British passports, they will also help in the detection of forged or manipulated documents while confirming the identity of the individual.

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"Biometric technology makes use of our unique features. There is no doubt that the use of biometric information to link a person to a passport will enhance security.

"In step with our European partners, we will also be considering the inclusion of fingerprints as well as facial data in due course."

The e-passports will be introduced gradually and will be issued to all applicants from the end of August.

The electronic chip will contain digitally coded measurements of the holder's features, such as the distances between eyes, nose, mouth and ears.

The information will be taken from the applicant's passport photo. The new document will also feature pages with intricate designs and complex watermarks.