• European Parliament passes regulation to strengthen security of EU identity documents.
Identity documents with standard security features in the EU.

European Commission welcomes EP’S vote on pan-European ID

Monday, 06 May 2019 11:27

The European Commission welcomed the European Parliament’s recent vote to introduce uniform pan-EU rules on identity cards and residence documents.

New regulation on EU ID cards

“In the future, all ID cards and residence documents issued in the EU should have the same minimum security standards. This will help us detect and prevent terrorists and criminals from using forged ID cards and from crossing our borders, whilst safeguarding the rights and freedoms of our citizens, including their mobility,” Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos declared.

The European Parliament voted on a new Regulation, which will strengthen the security of identity cards and residence documents throughout the European Union. The weak security features of ID cards in some Member States, still issuing paper ID cards, represent a serious security risk, as they can easily be falsified and could be used by terrorists and other criminals to enter the EU. The Regulation will introduce minimum common security standards making them secure and reliable, according to the Commission.

Security features, RFID chip and biometrics

Security features of ID cards will be aligned with those of passports, as both types of travel documents will now contain a highly secure contactless chip that digitally stores the holder's photo and fingerprints. Member States will start to issue the new ID cards in two years. ID cards currently in circulation that do not conform to the new standards will have to be replaced within five or ten years, depending on their security level. There will be an exception for ID cards whose holders are over 70 years of age.

The new rules do not oblige Member States to issue ID cards: they will continue to decide whether to make them voluntary or obligatory or not to issue ID cards at all. Member States can maintain their national design features and e-government services. However, all new ID cards will have to comply with the new security standards.

A uniform format will include the same identity elements in the same order, a European symbol and optional mention of gender. It will incorporate "a highly secure chip with two biometric identifiers (facial image and two fingerprints)."

Of twenty-six EU member states that issue identity cards to their nationals, identity card ownership is compulsory in 15 member states. The total number of people detected with fraudulent documents, including ID cards, either entering or exiting the EU, or in transit, increased by around 16 percent from 2013 to 2015.

EU IDs and Real ID in the US

The reasons behind unified EU ID card formats are similar to the so-called Real ID in the US: uniform data structure design and advanced security features.

Although the issuance of the new pan-European ID cards might take some time, ARH is ready today to cope with the new cards thanks to its family of state-of-the-art ID readers.