Helsinki Airport is the test site for a possible digital revolution in travel, Source: Depositphotos

Helsinki’s airport is the world's first test site for digital passports

Helsinki’s airport is the world's first test site for digital passports

For now, the service is only available for flights to the United Kingdom

Since 28 August, Helsinki-Vantaa Airport has been giving the chance to passengers travelling to certain cities in the United Kingdom to pass through passport control by using a digital travel document only. This pilot project thus makes Finland the first country in the world to introduce digital passports available on a smartphone rather than as a physical object.

The program is a collaboration between national carrier Finnair, Finavia (the operator of Finnish airports) and the Finnish border police. The option is only available to Finnish citizens, specifically, those travelling to London, Manchester or Edinburgh.

This EU country has also expressed interest in introducing digital IDs

Travellers interested in trying it out first need to download the FIN DTC Pilot digital travel document app on their smartphone. To use it, they’ll also need to have some form of phone screen locking method, such as PIN number, fingerprint or face ID. And these have to be activated before installing the app.

After this, the passengers must register as testers at one of two police license service points. 36 to 4 hours before the flight the personal data from the app has to be sent to the border police, similar to a digital check-in for a flight.

The Finnish border police say that the digital credentials are just as acceptable as the paper ones and that this will enable “smooth and fast border crossing without compromising safety”.

Travellers, however, will still have to take their paper passports with them because the border control in Great Britain still only works with such documents.

Nevertheless, the current project is seen as the first step to the way things will unfold in the future when long queues at police counters might become a thing of the past together with paper passports.

The current pilot project will run until February 2024 before evaluation, however, according to Euronews, Croatia is also planning to test the same innovation at Zagreb Airport later this year.

The data collected during these trial runs will help the European Commission make informed decisions about an eventually more comprehensive application of digital travel documents.



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