As of 28 August, the Finish Border Guard started the pilot testing of a digital passport system, Digital Travel Credentials (DTC), allowing citizens departing from Helsinki Airport to pass border control without a physical passport.
The trial is only run on Finnair flights for passengers travelling from Helsinki to, or returning from, London, Manchester or Edinburgh. The pilot will run until the end of February 2024 and will allow volunteers to “pass through border control faster and smoother than usual without queuing”, according to a statement from the Border Guard.
The digital travel document DTC is now being tested in real border control, reportedly for the first time in the world.Finnish Border Guard
The DTC is a digital version of the physical passport and the Border Guard says it is equally reliable, allowing for smooth and fast border crossings without compromising security. Passengers enrolling to trial the DTC will be able to use a separately marked border control checkpoint when leaving or returning to Helsinki on the three Finnair routes to the UK.
The project is currently only available to Finnish citizens, who have to download the FinDTC Pilot digital travel document app on their phones and register with the police before being able to use the DTC. The registration can either be done directly at a service point at Helsinki Airport or at the Tikkurila station beforehand.
At registration, the identity of the traveller is checked by an officer and a picture is taken for the creation of the digital passport in the app. Passengers only need to go through the registration process once, then can travel with the DTC as many times as they want. Data from the app just needs to be sent to the Finnish Border Guard 36 to 4 hours before each flight.
Currently, the DTC can only be used at Helsinki Airport, so passengers returning to Finland from the UK have to follow the instructions of the local authorities during border control in the UK. Additionally, during the trial period, travellers still need to have their physical passports with them even at Helsinki Airport, which will be scanned at a separate reader while a border guard compares the passenger’s facial photo with the DTC facial photo.
The DTC project is part of a European Commission broad digital identity policy package that aims to digitalise a number of services across Member States. The EU is co-funding the project, allocating it a budget of €2.3 million. Croatia is also part of the policy, with a similar DTC system bound to start trial at Zagreb International Airport later this year.