Finland has launched a world-first system that allows citizens flying from Helsinki to the UK to use smartphone-based identification instead of a physical passport.
Passengers flying from Helsinki Airport to London, Edinburgh and Manchester with Finnair will be able to leave the country without their usual passports. Instead, they’ll be able to utilise Digital Travel Credentials (DTC), loaded on their phones.
In a statement, Raja, the Finnish Border Guard, outlines that the aim is to speed up the movement of passengers through the airport and reduce queues and wait times for better efficiency.
“The DTC is a digital version of a physical passport and is equally reliable. It allows smooth and fast border crossings without compromising security.”
There is quite a process of preparation for this voluntary digital travel method.
In the pilot programme, passengers need to download an app to store the DTC. Then, they must register with the Finnish police through license services at the Vantaa Main Police Station, legitimising the digital ID with their real passports (the chip is read to create the digital travel document for the app). They’ll also sign a consent form and have a picture taken for facial recognition.
Then, passengers will have to send off relevant data from the app to the Finnish Border Guard before the flight. Officials also advise that passengers take their passports along for the trip (as they won’t be able to return without them).
It was announced that the trial would take place last year, with officials initially scheduling the programme to begin at the end of 2022. After facing some delays, the pilot programme was launched on August 28. It is a collaboration between the Finnish Border Guard, Finnair, the Finnish Police and Finavia, and is co-funded by the European Union.
Another trial is also expected to take place in Croatia’s Zagreb airport, as the EU looks to consider the implementation of this new digital travel strategy.