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Finland Becomes First Country to Trial Digital Passports

Passengers on Finnair flights to and from the UK are now able to use their smartphones to verify their identity

by Samir Kadri

September 15, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Levi Ventura / Unsplash

The Finnish Border Guard announced late last month that passengers at Helsinki Airport (HEL) will now be able to show a digital ID on their phone in lieu of their physical passport.

Passengers on Finnair flights to London, Edinburgh, and Manchester will be able to go through border control using their Digital Travel Credentials (DTC), with the aim being to reduce queue times and enhance the traveling experience.

“The DTC is a digital version of the physical passport and is equally reliable. It allows smooth and fast border crossings without compromising security,” the Finnish Border Guard said in a statement.

“The European Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, is developing the DTC as part of a broad digital identity policy package that includes a number of digital services.”

The DTC pilot project is a partnership between Finnair, airport operator Finavia, and the Finnish police and is set to run until the end of February 2024 in Helsinki. Participation is only available to Finnish citizens currently.

Passengers wanting to access their digital passports will first have to download the FIN DTC Pilot digital travel document app on their smartphone from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Then, they will need to register with the police at Vantaa in one of two locations—Tikkurilla or the Eastern Uusimaa service point in Helsinki Airport.

Passengers must bring their valid physical passports to register. This will be used to verify their identity and create a digital travel document. They will then sign a consent form and have their photograph taken for facial recognition. As DTC can only be used in Helsinki Airport, passengers should bring their physical passports for border control in the UK.

Finland’s DTC pilot project is part of a wider EU scheme to increase the efficiency of airline travel. It marks the EU’s first venture into digital passports, with the Union providing €2.3 million ($2.47 million) in financial backing.

Last year, the European Commission (EC) offered all member states the opportunity to trial the digital documents. Croatia also agreed to try the program, and the DTC will be rolled out at Zagreb (ZAG) this fall.