Finland blazes a trail with the world’s first digital passport system

As digital transformation sweeps across various sectors, the travel industry is not far behind. The latest innovation? Digital passports, with Finland leading the charge. Departing Finnish travelers flying from Helsinki to the UK can now opt for a mobile-based digital ID, ditching the traditional passport, as reported by Euronews. This pioneering move, lauded by the Finnish Border Control, ushers in an era where travelers can cross international borders equipped solely with their smartphones, ensuring a swift and hassle-free journey.

Finland blazes a trail with the world's first digital passport system

The birth of this digital initiative on August 28 was a collaborative effort involving Finnair, the Finnish police, and airport operator Finavia, all operating under the watchful eye of the Finnish Border Guard. This pilot, stationed at Helsinki Airport’s border control, is set to run until February 2024.

Curious about how this tech-savvy shift works? Prospective travelers need to download the FIN DTC Pilot digital travel document app, available on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store. For added security, travelers must activate a screen lock method – be it a PIN, fingerprint, or facial recognition. The journey doesn’t end there; users then need to register at Vantaa Main Police Station’s licensing services. This step involves verifying one’s physical passport and undergoing a facial photo capture for the digital ID.

Having set up their digital passport, travelers can effortlessly use the DTC system for direct flights between Helsinki and the UK on Finnair until the pilot concludes. An essential component? Broadcasting their details to the Finnish Border Guard between 4 to 36 hours before flying.

Yet, the phenomenon isn’t limited to Finland. Countries worldwide are jumping on the bandwagon. Poland, South Korea, the US, and the UK are all on the path to cultivating their digital passport platforms. A remarkable leap was taken by Ukraine in 2021, where digital passports were accorded the same legal stature as their physical counterparts.

Beyond just passports, digital solutions are becoming integral to international travel. Singapore’s HealthCerts, introduced in 2021, provides a digital vault for Covid-19 test outcomes and vaccination details. Likewise, countries including China, Estonia, and Israel have rolled out digital vaccination passports, indicating a broader global movement towards digitizing travel.