back to article Home Office unveils new UK passport

The Home Office has said that new UK passports with 'strengthened security features' will be issued from October. To make the passports more secure, the chip which stores the holder's details has been moved to the inside of the passport cover so it will no longer be visible, the Home Office said. The new 10-year passport will …


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  1. Blake St. Claire

    details on second page is faster?

    > As part of the redesign, the personal details page of the passport will

    > be moved to the second page in the passport booklet. The Home Office

    > hopes that this will help speed up travelers' passage through border controls.

    Okay, I give up. How does this help speed things up?

    The new (since 2007) RFID equipped US passports have done this. My passage through border controls seems -- shockingly enough -- to be determined by how many people are in line in front of me.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Its standard...

      What they mean by this is that the standard in passports worldwide is for your pic to be on the second page. The UK was one of the few nations which doesnt do this (your details being at the back of the passport!), meaning when you go somewhere outside the UK they first fumble for the second page and then have to thumb through to try and find your pic.

      So in reality, time saved is bugger all but the UK is now in line with the rest of the world which is just always that little bit easier for all concerned...

      1. Anonymous Coward


        But the old hard cover blue passports used to have the picture in the front. When they all changed over to the "new" flimsy red passports, they moved the picture to the back. I'm pretty sure the reason they gave at the time was this this was "the new international standard".

        So, now they are telling us that actually it was right the first time? Who the hell makes this crap up???

        A bit like saying that all passports need finger prints and eye scans and stuff because it's the "new international standard". It's only when you look into it that you find the only country interested in this "new international standard" is the UK.

        1. Dave Harris


          It was mainly down to the FCO. When the new EU standard format passports were introduced back in the early 1990s, it was also to bring in the machine-readable format.. However, at the time the FCO were worried that that would require the "Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State requests and requires..." page to be moved. Naturally, the FCO were not prepared to countenance this, being the FCO. A compromise was agreed whereby the personal details page would be in the equivalent position at the back.

          Then they went on to fight about the colour of the passport (they didn't want to switch from the old dark blue to the European red), which was only resolved when someone from the Immigration Service group suggested referring to it Imperial Maroon.

          Schoolmaster icon for the history lesson.

      2. asiaseen

        Thumbing through

        I find that the average passport officer goes straight to the photo page and then takes his time thumbing through to see where I've been previously - which with a fairly full 48p passport takes a while. My upcoming new (132 quid) passport hopefully will reduce this problem

    2. rpjs

      Surely most travellers

      Open their passports to the photo page before handing them over to check-in/passport control staff. I know I do.

      1. Blake St. Claire

        Not sure what the average IQ of a passport control officer is.

        But I suspect even the slow ones learned where the important bits are in UK passports.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't be silly...

        It's like people at the Supermarket checkout, that, after a long wait make a realisation and then spend a further 5 minutes looking for their purse when they are expected to pay.

        Or old a couple of old dears standing at the entrance to Supermarkets talking or teenagers standing at the top of escalators at stations or people trying to bowl onto the train before anyone has had a chance to get off.

        Some people just have no self-awareness or of the environment that surrounds them...


    uk passports

    i would buy a passport if i could if they wernt so exspensive i mean for a adult passport for me im 26 and i havent got one it would cost roughly around 80 quid which is a ripoff they used to be cheaper at one point.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: uk passports

      Count yourself lucky. You might have had to renew one as an expat living in Western Europe since they consolidated the whole shebang in Paris and then outsourced it to a bunch of complete and utter fucking thieves!

      So a "where's my fucking passport, you useless bastards?" question now costs you whatever the maximum a premium rate number is allowed to charge per minute in your country, plus 2EUR a minute charged to your credit card.

      Then it gets sent to you at the sort of eyewatering rates a courier company usually reserves for having someone carry it personally door-to-door.

      Then you find they've hiked the *renewal* cost to well over 100 quid on top of that. Obviously they don't do new issue, but I'd hate to think what they'd charge if they could.

      Now I guess this outsourcing may well save the FO money, but it's at the expense of handing a right, royal arsereaming to the likes of us.

      If I *ever* find out who was behind this idea I'm going to pour a gallon of unleaded on the miserable bum-sucking git and chuck a lit match after it. If any other expats want to tip up for that, I'll bring marshmallows too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother


        "....expat living in Western Europe since they consolidated the whole shebang in Paris and then outsourced it to a bunch of complete and utter fucking thieves!"

        You missed that they outsourced to an American company, so the money extorted doesn't even benefit the UK. It may also be fair to assume that anyone giving personal details and fingerprints for a UK passport or visa application will have made all their personal data available to the US authorities.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Count me in, I got my arsereaming courtesy of the Rome office, I'll even supply the petrol.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Used to be a tenner up Little Venice in Victoria and a days wait

        I got mine in Geneva in 2006 and it was about a ton-thirty then. I had to wait a month.


      4. Steve Kellett

        Only to Paris huh?

        Out here in SE Asia our passport renewal hub is Hong Kong. This results in our wandering ID less for a couple of weeks while our documents take an all expenses paid (by us) trip to The Big Lychee.

        The fact that not carrying a form of ID in this part of the World is usually a criminal offence of the "bang you up in a detention center for a bit and then deport you, possibly after a prison sentence if they were in a particularly testy mood" is merely a courtesy detail.

      5. sethp

        thieving scummy bastids

        hear hear! i'm up for some crispy MP-fuelled marshmallows

    2. Nipsirc

      Indeed they were cheaper at one point...

      So were a lot of things. Some things are free - even now - such as capital letters and punctuation marks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Leave him alone...

        ...he only got a B in GSCE igerlish.

        1. Graham Marsden

          @he only got a B in GSCE igerlish.

          Are you sure that wasn't an A? Actually using (some of) the right punctuation and spellings would have been a guaranteed A*

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Leave him alone...

          I got a U in O-Level English twice and a C on my third attempt, but that was in the days when you needed more than just to turn up in order to get an A*. Your writing also needed to be legible which is probably why I did so badly, apparently these days not being able to read the answer is not sufficient reason to fail someone.

    3. Ryan Kendall

      Still Cheap tho

      It's not bad. £80 for a passport that lasts for 10 years well that's only going to cost you 2p a day to have one.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I lost all faith in the passport office...

    ...when they decided that babies should have their own passport. With a photo. Valid for 5 years. For 70 quid. Wtf?

    Who's the more immediate threat: terrorists or money grubbing public "servants"?

    1. Number6


      My son had to put up with a picture of him at two months old for his first five years. By the end we could probably have used it with any child.

    2. Old Tom

      Re: lost all faith in the passport office...

      "...when they decided that babies should have their own passport. With a photo. Valid for 5 years. For 70 quid. Wtf?"

      Actually, it's 49 quid for 5 year children's passports.

      What's your alternative - a list of children's names in your adult passport, and they just take your word for it that a child you're taking out of the country is one of yours?

      You need separate ones anyway to get into many countries. e.g. USA

      1. Anonymous Coward


        "What's your alternative - a list of children's names in your adult passport, and they just take your word for it that a child you're taking out of the country is one of yours?"

        Well, a photo of me at 2 months old could be used for, say, my brother at 4 (6 years later). So having a photo of a newborn is bugger all use if it lasts for 5 years.

        Annual passport changes wouldn't even be much use for the first couple of years.

      2. My New Handle

        Won't somebody think of ...

        ... the children?

        Oh for fucks sake, can we please all just stop the infantilisation of this planet of ours. Not every single adult is a pedophile child-snatching monster. Yes, dear, I know they exist, but so do bogey-men. Ships sink but we don't drain the ocean.

        So the dear child has a passport to prove that the adults are mummy and daddy - and that makes it safe so that you can sleep at night? Grow the fuck up, haven't you heard of forgery? Wouldn't it just be easier to fly out to the country of your choice and grab yourself a local? When in Rome and all that. Why take the chance of dragging little Johnny or Susie through an abundance of CCTV and no end of jobsworth checkers in the dim and distant hope that said infant is going to keep their gob shut long enough for you to get them to your destination.

        Look, its simple. Shit happens to some people. But we really do not have to shut down all normality to protect all 25billion of us just because ...

        Keep this up and we'll have to sit perfectly still in our front rooms unless we have a permit to move!

    3. Rob

      I'd say the...

      ... money grabbing public servants, cause at least the motives of why the terrorist blew/shot/maimed/etc are pretty honest. I don't think some public servants can even say the word honest without blacking out or stuttering (Kryten from Red Dwarf saying Smeghead to Rimmer immediately springs to mind).

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Lets hope that...........

    ............these aren't copy able by "our friends*" Israeli.

    * I use the term somewhat loosely.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      title blah blah blah...

      dunno about that, i'll bet you a squid to a pinch of shit that mossad could get you a shiny new UK passport long before the home office.

      and cheaper too

      (look already! feel the width not the quality, schmutter it isnt, oy vey etc etc etc)

      mines the one with a targeting laser shing on the back of it

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Our friends...

      Probably invented the tech used in these new passports anyway.

  5. Rogerborg

    Splitting infinitives make Baby Jesus strangle a kitten.

    "well known UK scenes"? Burning immigration centres, hoodies kicking in a granny underneath a CCTV camera, that sort of thing?

  6. Matt Brigden


    All they need now is to do something to avoid the moronic security measures at Manchester . I suggest the idiots implementing these policies should try shuffling through a line holding your trousers up in one hand whilst trying not to tip your belt, laptop, phone, wallet, coins, lighter , cigarettes etc onto the floor as they make you put it in a pile before you even get to the bloody scanners . Correct me if Im wrong but isnt this why they have bloody xray machines ? .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't even get me started on that.

      I fly from Manchester semi-regularly and I've come to the conclusion that they only implement the bleeding "security" measures to piss people off.

      It's amazing how often I don't get blown up on my way back into the UK going through much more reasonable security measures at the other end.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        other ends

        Most aren't as hated as the UK.

  7. smudge

    "So if we hide the chip..."

    "To make the passports more secure, the chip which stores the holder's details has been moved to the inside of the passport cover so it will no longer be visible, the Home Office said."

    Not trusting the Reg's reporting, I checked, and yes the Home Office website actually says "...moving the chip which stores the passport holder’s details to the inside of the passport cover where it won’t be visible. "

    It's an RFID effing chip, FFS!! Whether it's visible or not makes eff all difference.

    I wonder which consultancy trousered a small fortune of our money for providing that advice.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: "So if we hide the chip..."

      O ye of little faith...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's not quite the point

      The UK originally chose for a format where you could actually see the RFID and it's antenna, so it was almost an invitation to go and experiment with it. Other EU countries embedded the chip in a page so you couldn't quite see the component parts.

      The Netherlands, for instance, have a plastic card with all the identity details and the chip is inside the plastic.

      It is very disappointing that the new format still has no shielding. OK, it's a bit like supplying an anchor because you forgot to install car brakes, but it would have been at least *some* measure of protection - unless remote reading was the aim in the first place (which is what I suspect anyway). There is an upside to this lack of protection: teh user cannot really be accused of wilfully damaging the chip if it doesn't work - it can receive interference from anywhere.

      I suspect when RFID passport control is well established we can expect a good deal of Denial-of-service hacking in airports - it won't take much equipment.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    >the UK passport remains one of the most secure and trusted documents in the world

    Ah, so that's why it costs all of, er, well, £250 for a fake one.

    Let's hope the newer ones are better than that.

    (Oh, and I was expecting a Daily Mail reader to scream "if they're so good why is England full to bursting of illegal Elbonian immigrants eating the cats our citizens throw away and taking all our jobs" or something along those lines. Quite disappointed now)

    1. W. Keith Wingate
      IT Angle

      True on our side of the puddle as well

      It's been a good 13 years or so but when I lived in Los Angeles I had it on good authority that on a certain well-known corner in downtown LA you could get a full-set of very realistic looking CA / US docs ('not sure if a passport was included) for about $75 US if you could wait a week. You might get them in a couple of days for an expedite fee. At the time, the legal versions of said docs could take months, and cost about $75..... Since then (I think; they may have had them before), the US Government has introduced expedite fees themselves. See, competition is a good thing!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone noticed

    That even though the cost of passports was put up to help pay for ID cards, the price hasn't fallen since Blunkettcards were consigned to oblivion?

  10. Citizen Kaned


    i got a new passport last year....

    the pic of me is so bleached out i look like a ghost... i could be any random pasty white guy. surely the picture is what 99.9% of officials will be most interested in?!?!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Uh, wasn't this supposed to be cancelled?

    I thought that the new De La Rue passport was going to be cancelled along with the ID card scheme.. it's clear that this was intended to dove-tail with the ID cards, and it seems they just don't want to waste the design.

    The problem is - the design sucks. Seriously! What's wrong with the current one? The birds look nice, the rigid plastic ID page is great (no more curling up) and my passport still looks like new 5 years from issue.. and it's seen a reasonable amount of use. OK, so the Mossad can fake it, but the SPSL bird passports will be valid through 2018 anyway, so it's not a problem that goes away any time soon.

    This one's just cheap trash, like the new US "We the People" thing.

    IT angle: at least I hope they've taken their time to patch up some of the bugs in the current smart card OS and added active authentication.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Erm, the hitmen in Dubai didn't use the current ePassport

      They used the old (but still valid) paper-passport.

      So the fakers aren't even bothering with the current one, they're just making old ones because they're easier.

      Surely somebody must realise that having 3 (possibly 4 - I forget when they changed) 'still valid' concurrent designs of passport makes them *less* secure, as staff are less likely to spot a fake when they're trying to match the document in front of them to multiple variants of 'real'.

      It's not like cash, which circulates and therefore the banks can pretty easily 'swap-out' on the way through.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    passport hell

    I have a fast track passport (has a little symbol on the front) so you can go through the gates without having to deal with the staff. Seems great idea doesn't it? However, when you go through it takes photos of you from 8 different angles. Does the Data Protection Commissioner know about this? I have decided to queue regardless as they have enough information on me already. I am thinking of sending my toe nail clippings to them as I don't believe they have these yet. Oh and another thing the Retinal scanning technology they deploy through airports they have found has a floor in it so now they are looking at nose recongnition instead. Unbelievable but true!

    1. JaitcH

      There are other, less well known, 'symbols' on the passport cover

      There are at least 9 combinations on passport covers that are visible to the naked eye which identify the bearer to UK immigration.

      Compare a passport issued to the military or ranking civil service types with that carried by the greater unwashed mob.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        Interesting comment

        "There are at least 9 combinations on passport covers that are visible to the naked eye which identify the bearer to UK immigration."

        I had never heard of this before. Can you expand on this?

        (Paris + question mark because I'm intrigued)

  13. Steen Hive


    " the UK passport remains one of the most secure and trusted documents in the world,"

    Mossad certainly think so.

  14. Whitter
    Thumb Up

    oppertunity knocks

    Will El Reg start making branded tin-foil-based passport holders?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you are lucky enough to have an Irish parent

    If you have an Irish parent, or to were born in the North of Ireland, it's worth the couple of hours it takes to get an Irish passport. They are cheaper for adults and a lot cheaper for kids (your citizenship can be passed down to your kids, and theirs ad infinitum if you do the paperwork).

    The staff in the London office are friendly and charming into the bargain.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      And the irony is...

      "The troubles" remain the largest threat to UK security according to MI5 and anecdotally underlined by the recent spate of bombings (and evidence of church cover-ups).

      Smoke and fucking mirrors: the UK and the IRA, Spain and ETA, France and the Corsicans, Germany and the RAF, etc.. Is there a pattern? Yes, you're at most risk from those born and bred in your own country.

  16. JaitcH

    My RFID thingy quit working ...

    after I cooked the passport in a microwave oven along with a mug of water.

    No remote reading for me, hands on only. The funny thing is UK immigration tries scanning it a couple of times then lets me pass on by, whilst muttering something derogatory about technology.

    1. PReDiToR

      I did that after ...

      I got that stupid frickin chip in my passport. ZZZip. Nuked it for 5 seconds and killed it.

      Getting back in from Tenergrief through Manchester was easy enough (as someone said they put it down to dodgy tech and some guy asking silly questions at the baggage carousel).

      Then I needed to go to the US of bastard A.

      Replaced the passport with a trip to Liverpool and a large payment, then I was all set.

      Shitehawks on their borders still pulled me out of the queue to check laptops, wallets, clothes and even the sniffer machine.

      Tinfoil holders is the way forward. Wallets for the CCs and holders for the passports.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    RFID ???

    Mine doesnt have that...... anymore, least not after i dropped a hammer on the floor

    (and happened to have the passport lying under it at the time ;)

    (I'm not having all those sneaky id thieves nickin all me data from 100 yards away and im burgered if i'm wasting money on a tinfoil wallet for it!)

    Mines the one your all gonna have to cue up behind for hours whilst they double check it out at the passport control :))

  18. g e

    Maybe they should dip them in a strong baconfat mixture too

    To ward off Mossad forgeries

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bleh. I say again: Bleh.

    "Through its combination of physical and electronic security features, the UK passport remains one of the most secure and trusted documents in the world, meeting rigorous international standards,"

    Yay for standard government spin drivel. For unless they upgraded the chip it's already known to be crackable and clonable. And if they have, well, we'll just have to find fresh holes in it. Rely on only the chip (such as with those eyesearing human customs turd free turnstiles) and none of the fancy holograms in the passport matter a whit. I might as well be Elvis.

    I'd take the new passport, holograms and all, if they'd offer it to me without the chip. Yes, I'm well aware the USoA won't let me get off by paying a happiness tax on their not-a-visa-electronic-visa thing, but would want me to pay for an in depth personal exami, er, interview. I wasn't going there anyway, and am perfectly happy with continuing not going there. No, that doesn't make me a terrorist. Let me explain to you: If I can't get there I can't fly more aeroplanes into overly tall buildings over there. How hard is that to understand? Yes, I understand the consequences. Now give me a passport without that stupid chip and without biometrics beyond a black and white picture, damn you.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Our personal information protected by Holograms, eh?

    Chip moved to the inside so it becomes *invisible*

    This is hot stuff indeed. Do we have to wear rubber gloves to handle these new passports? Maybe the people who handle them all day will have to wear those lead suits they use in X-ray departments!

    I think we should we should give three rousing cheers to the brave civil servants who are leading us safely into the *Future of Identity Protection*

  21. druck Silver badge

    Too bloody much and no bloody tin foil

    1) No reduction in price, despite the numerous rises by the last government to fund ID cards, which have been scrapped.

    2) No shielding to prevent the chip being read when the passport is closed like US ones have.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    If this was my home office I'd consider throwing it out and getting a new one

    "To make the passports more secure, the chip which stores the holder's details has been moved to the inside of the passport cover so it will no longer be visible, the Home Office said."

    That's funny because I generally keep my wallet in my pocket. Hasn't stopped it being nicked by a pickpocket though.

    "... a secondary image of the holder printed onto the observations page ..."

    Is this the same image printed twice, or an entirely different image - does anyone know?

    Other new security features ... "... will [ensure] UK citizens speedier travel across borders".

    Does this include being able to skip the fuck-awful slow-as-you-like don't-smile-you're-a-security-professional-who-wears-their-ass-for-a-hat security-checks queue at Heathrow or Manchester?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Stolen Passport

      I hope that it wasn't yours a friend 'borrowed' a couple of months ago. The guy he took it from was fat, grey, pasty and with a moustache. He's tall, thin, clean shaven and with an Eastern Mediteranian complexion. He knew that it was a British passport from the RFID tag he saw when it was placed in the pocket - he at least wanted one from the correct country! He just told the customs people at CDG and LHR that he had lost weight , now dyes his hair and had been sitting on a beach for a couple of weeks. Straight through without any issues!


      He thought that his passport had been stolen in France, but when he got home he found it waiting for him next to the kettle, where he had left it. He'd obviously not had to get it out to show on the ferry on the way out!

  23. ShaggyDoggy

    Re: U in O-Level English

    They don't "fail" you any more, that "could" be "traumatic".

    Instead you 'pass" at a slightly lower grade.

    It's what we pay for.

  24. Roger Mew

    Is this as a result of my complaint!!

    A year ago I reported to the Passport office that I could detect my wifes passport at 10m. It would then be little effort to read the information, clone it and use the information to recreate a passport.

    Then the israelis did their thing. I reiterated my notes and my complaints.

    I then had to get my passport renewed which I did at Peterborough and again voiced my concerns.

    The result eventually was attached below some 6 months ago!!!


    I have now had a response to your complaint which details the technology used within the biometric passports currently being issued. I hope that the explanation below will reassure you and answer the points raised in your emails.

    "IPS issues passports in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard 9303. Since 2005, IPS has issued passports containing a RFID chip

    and Antennae. The chip works in accordance with the ISO/IEC 14443 standard

    The chip contains the same data as printed in the Machine Readable Zone on the biodata page of the passport plus the holders photograph. The Machine Readable Zone is the two lines of data, interspersed with chevrons (<) at the bottom of the biodata page.

    In response to concerns that an ePassport could be used to track an individual, ICAO 9303 includes Basic Access Control.

    Basic Access Control operates by the document reader generating a cryptographic key based on data within the Machine Readable Zone. This key is used to encrypt the communication between the reader and chip. If a reader attempts to skim the data from the chip without having access to the MRZ, the chip will break the communication without revealing any personal data, the nationality of the passport issuer or data that would allow identification of that particular passport.

    A legitimate read of the passport will provide the holders details, in the same way that copying the biodata page of a non-chipped passport will provide the holders details. The value of this is limited as the data is protected by a digital signature.

    A digital signature is generated using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). This relies on asymmetric key pairs. A key is the code used to encrypt or decrypt a message. Asymmetric keys pairs are linked keys with the feature that anything encrypted with one key can only be decrypted with the other key. An asymmetric key can not decrypt anything it encrypted.

    The data on the chip is hashed (a one way zip producing a relatively unique number) and then encrypted with an IPS Private Key, to create the digital signature. These private keys are maintained in a secure environment within IPS and are not released outside the production process. The chip contains the Public Key (the paired key capable of decrypting material encrypted with the Private Key), which is also freely distributed via the ICAO Public Key Directory.

    A document reader can use the public key to decrypt the digital signature to obtain the original hashed value. The reader then repeats the hash exercise on the data it obtained from the chip. If the data has been changed since the digital signature was created, the hash values will not match.

    This limits what can be done with the electronic data on the chip, as any changes can be detected. While a clone could be created it would be of very limited value as the data remains unchanged from the original and the cloner also has to recreate all the physical security features in the passport.

    With regard to the risk of “frying” the chip, they are designed to withstand an induced electrostatic discharge voltage of at least +/- 2kV directly at the antenna-chip connection. This would require sufficient power to be transmitted through the antenna to create such a discharge. If the passport is treated with the same care as any other device containing microchips (for example a mobile phone), there is no reason the chip should be damaged.

    A passport with a non-functioning chip is still valid for travel but will be unable to use automatic gates and may attract increased interest in the holder from border control."

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