In a pioneering move, the Finnish Border Control is testing Digital Travel Credentials (DTC), which they claim to be “equally reliable” as physical passports. Finnish citizens flying from Helsinki to the UK now have the option to present a digital ID on their smartphones instead of traditional passports. This innovative trial, conducted in collaboration with Finnair, Finnish police, and airport operator Finavia, marks the first instance of a digital passport being accepted in a real border control environment, potentially setting a global precedent for smoother and faster border crossings.
How Digital Passport Finland Work
The DTC pilot project, currently exclusive to Finnish citizens, commenced on Finnair flights to London, Edinburgh, and Manchester on August 28th. Interested travelers must download the FIN DTC Pilot digital travel document app from their respective app stores. To use the app, they need to have phone screen locking methods like PIN numbers, fingerprints, or facial recognition activated.
To create the digital passport Finland, travelers must register with the police at Vantaa Main Police Station’s license services, bringing their physical passport. During registration, a consent form is signed, and a facial photo is taken for future facial recognition.
Once registered, travelers can use DTC at Helsinki Airport when traveling to the UK and returning to Helsinki Airport on direct Finnair flights until the trial concludes at the end of February 2024. Before each trip, travelers need to submit their data through the app to the Finnish Border Guard 36 to 4 hours before the flight.
At Helsinki Airport, special lines are designated for volunteers testing the DTC service. A border guard verifies the traveler’s photo with the DTC photo captured during police registration. After placing the physical passport on a separate reader and looking into a camera, the traveler is cleared for border control.
It’s important to note that this pilot scheme is currently only available in Helsinki, and travelers must still adhere to local authorities’ instructions in the UK.
The Potential for EU-wide Adoption
Finland’s digital passport trial aligns with a broader EU pilot initiative aimed at enhancing travel technology. The European Commission reached out to countries willing to participate in testing digital documents, with Croatia volunteering to run its own pilot project at Zagreb Airport. The Commission intends to utilize the insights gained from these pilot schemes to propose the rollout of digital passports across the entire EU in the future.