E-passports to debut this summer

The State Department will begin issuing e-passports to the public this summer that include a random number making the document more difficult to forge.

The e-passport plan includes an integrated chip with the passport holder’s name and birth date, said Frank Moss, deputy assistant secretary of State for consular affairs. The passbook includes a shield to prevent unauthorized scanning or viewing, and an individual and random number for each passport holder.

Moss spoke at the third annual FCW Events Wireless/ RFID Conference and Exhibition.

He said the technology is part of a new generation of passports that would take about 10 years to fully implement in the United States. The new passport will cost about $85, including a $12 fee for the biometric components.

Moss also said State is preparing for a Jan. 1, 2008, deadline when U.S. citizens will be required to carry passports to return to the United States from other countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Canada and Mexico.

Until now, returning citizens were required only to show identification such as a birth certificate or driver’s license. But Moss said the new rules would be tantamount to a change of behavior for frequent U.S. travelers in the Western Hemisphere.

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