Secure by design

Head of Product Design at HM Passport Office Marcel Borg gave passport officers the low-down on the anti-fraud technology embedded in the new British e-passport.

British passports are considered one of the most powerful in the world, giving its holder visa-free access to 174 countries. That also makes it one of the most valuable on the black market, which is why the new passport is packed with the latest technology to stay one step ahead of the criminals.

The passport is the most secure ever produced in the UK and contains features to make it hard for fraudsters to copy, including:

advances in the use of security printing using UV and infrared light, 3-D holographic images that actually move on the page, complex inks and tactile watermarks

the use of a single sheet of paper for the personal details page through to the page adjoined to the back cover to prevent the passport from being tampered with.

The passport is beautifully designed too, celebrating “Creative United Kingdom”. The visa pages feature cross-page designs of icons from all four of the home nations – from the Angel of the North to the London tube map and the red telephone box – and a watermark of William Shakespeare.

But the clever design features serve a purpose: by extending images across a double page spread in the passport book, it is very difficult to print with a regular printer.

Integrated design elements on each page also help document inspectors to spot a forged passport more easily, using a combination of UV light, document readers and the naked eye.

A cross-page design in the new passport featuring the Angel of the North