Paper passports might be out in favour of smartphone digital versions

Passport in pocket

As we continue to hurtle along into the shiny new digital world, we are all outfitted with gadgets and gizmos that can help us through everyday life. It is possible that one of the last hangers-on of the past paper world, the passport, may soon be phased out for a digital alternative.

Passports are very important documents, and you would have great difficulty getting through an airport without one. A British banknote printing company, De La Rue, are looking into moving our passports onto our phones, so we always have them with us.

This would remove that jolting fear you get in the airport when you are suddenly unsure whether your passport is still in your pocket where it was put two minutes before, or whether it has magically evaporated into nothing leaving you unable to get home.

Martin Sutherland, chief executive of De La Rue, told The Times that his company had started to work out a way in which they could securely replicate the documents in a digital format, in such a way that they would unfailingly work at immigration control.

However, if anyone can manage this, it would be De La Rue. They are the world’s largest producer of passports, and leading experts in counterfeit protection technology.

But getting the technology to work is only half the battle. The company would then need to prove to governments around the world that the system works and is secure, and get their blessings for the digital passports to be used at their ports and airports.

Although we are moving further and further from paper copies of documents, and digital boarding passes and tickets for all sorts of events are now digital, it is unlikely we will see a digital passport quite yet, but as the technology is being developed, then it may be just over the horizon.