A “live test” of e-Passports that contain computer chips with biographic and biometric information begins today at terminals 2, 4 and 7 of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and at Sydney Airport in Australia. The “live test” will run from June 15 to September 15, 2005.
“This live test of e-Passports is an important step forward in a larger effort to enhance security and facilitate travel through international cooperation,” said Jim Williams, Director of US-VISIT, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program.
Volunteers participating in the test include airline crew and officials of United Airlines, Air New Zealand and Qantas Airlines. These volunteers will present their new e-Passports when arriving in the United States through LAX, or upon arrival in Australia through Sydney Airport.
The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and State (DOS) are working on this live test, in cooperation with the governments of Australia and New Zealand. The test will assess the operational impact of using new equipment and software to read and verify the information embedded in the e-Passports.
The e-Passports contain the holders’ biographic information and a biometric identifier, in this case a digital photograph, embedded in a contactless chip set in the passport. The inspection process for those airline crew and officials participating is the same as always, with one exception: they will present the e-Passports to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers, along with their current passports containing their visas.
The United States and other member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have coordinated with equipment and document manufacturers to develop systems that can work together. This test is part of the effort to support countries around the world in their development and implementation of e-Passports that comply with ICAO standards.
Biometrics included in a chip provide a further means by which the identity of visitors may be verified, thus preventing entry by imposters and the use of fraudulent documents. Biometrics data provide border officials a critical tool in making admissibility decisions, thus enhancing border security.