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Indian passports to have chips soon. How do they work?

The postage stamp-sized chip would be paired with an embedded rectangular antenna that allows a passport to be read within seconds. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/MintPremium
The postage stamp-sized chip would be paired with an embedded rectangular antenna that allows a passport to be read within seconds. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

  • The chip in an e-passport makes it difficult to produce fake or counterfeit copies
  • Although your e-passport would be a bit heavier and thicker, it will be more secure as tampering with the chip in any way would result in failure of passport authentication

Indian citizens would soon be able to apply for an e-passport that is being developed by IIT-Kanpur, National Informatics Centre (NIC) and India Security Press (ISP) and the Ministry of External Affairs officials.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said his ministry has proposed manufacture of e-passports on priority so that the travel document with advanced security features can be rolled out in the near future.

ISP-Nashik has been authorized to float a Global three-stage tender for procurement of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)-compliant electronic contactless inlays along with its operating system which is required for the manufacture of e-passports.

But why would you need a passport with a chip in it when all of your personal data, including your date of birth, address and signature are already printed in your regular passport?

The chip in an e-passport makes it difficult to produce fake or counterfeit copies. Your unique biometrics, along with other key details including information about the last 30 trips and international movements, would be saved inside a chip with 64-kilobytes of data.

The postage stamp-sized chip would be paired with an embedded rectangular antenna that allows a passport to be read within seconds, saving crucial seconds at immigration counters.

Although your e-passport would be a bit heavier and thicker, it will be more secure as tampering with the chip in any way would result in failure of passport authentication.

It is also designed in a way that the data present on the passport cannot be wiped remotely.

India will join about 120 other nations, including the US, UK and EU by adopting e-passports.

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