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Slovakia issues first biometric passports

The National Security Office (NBU) in Bratislava issued the first two Slovak passports with biometric data.

“In the future, we'd like to speed up the issuing of passports as much as possible. In addition, we'll try to create new work places,” said Interior Minister Robert Kalinak, one of the first two recipients along with NBU director Frantisek Blanarik. According to the minister, the new passports will make travelling easier for Slovak citizens, and should also help to promote a visa-free regime with the U.S.A.

A second package of biometric data should be in use by mid-2009. “We're ready, waiting only for the approval of technology - that we'll use with this second lot of biometric data - by the European Union,” said the minister. Information contained on a chip in the passport will only be accessible using special apparatus into which the passport will be inserted. “The National Security Office will issue a certificate that guarantees the authenticity of the passport,” said Blanarik.

The certificate system has been set up in line with standards valid for all EU-member states. The interior ministry will send the certificates issued by NBU to all passport and customs offices in the EU, so that they can verify the authenticity of biometric passports during passport checks. (TASR)