Biometrics Introduced to Sri Lankan Passport Issuance Process

10 August 2015 – The new Sri Lankan passport issuance process will now require the capture of biometric data from all passport applicants. Using biometrics will help institute the “one person, one passport” policy. This is a major step forward in raising the integrity of the national passport and addressing concerns of fraudulent identity.

High standards at borders are vital to prevent cases of trafficking, smuggling, and other attempts at exploitation. Smoother and more transparent processes at borders enable nations to protect both regular and irregular migrants.The Department of Immigration and Emigration (DIE) will rollout this initiative from August 10, with the technical support of International Organization for Migration (IOM), and funding from the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

The capture of biometric fingerprint data and the introduction of an internationally accepted (ICAO) photograph standard for new passports comprise Phase I of this joint initiative. The design of Phase II began in July 2014 and includes the development of a new Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) which allows the biometric data captured from all passport applicants to be cross checked against the official database.  Phase II runs in parallel with Phase I and should be delivered by the end of the year.

The event marking the launch of the new biometric passport issuance process was held with the participation of the Secretary for the Ministry of Public Order and Christian Affairs, Mr. T. M. K. B. Tennakoon, Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ms. Robyn Mudie, as well as senior government officials, and IOM personnel..

“By enhancing the security and integrity of the passport issuance process, the project will raise the profile of national travel documents and facilitate the mobility of Sri Lankan nationals,” said IOM Sri Lanka Chief of Mission, Giuseppe Crocetti.

Her Excellency Ms. Robyn Mudie noted that “Obtaining biometric information during the passport issuing process will improve Sri Lanka’s ability to confirm the identity of its citizens, putting Sri Lanka on the world stage when it comes to passport document issuing.”

The Department of Immigration and Emigration mention this is “a gigantic step forward in Sri Lanka’s efforts to strengthen the integrity of the Sri Lankan passport issuing process”.

For years, many efforts have been invested in identifying a practical and efficient solution to address identity fraud concerns. A key recommendation from initial studies was the introduction of biometrics to Sri Lanka’s passport issuance process.