THE PRESIDENT of Portugal, Cavaco Silva, was the first to receive the government’s new, forge proof, electronic passport on August 28, reports The Resident’s Chris Graeme.
In what was his first official duty since he returned from his annual vacation in the Algarve, the President accompanied the Prime Minister, José Sócrates, and the Minister for Internal Administration, António Costa, for the official launch of the document at the Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda (INCM) in Lisbon.
The Passaporte Electrónico Português (PEP) uses the latest anti-forgery technology and has already been accepted by both the European Union and United States.
For the first time, it will be possible for a citizen entitled to a Portuguese passport to apply for and receive it in a day, at one of seven points nationwide, including Madeira and the Azores.
The document, which will internationally represent Portugal, includes a halogen photographic image of the bearer, which is burned into the passport and can be read via ultra-violet light. It also contains a digitalised electronic fingerprint of the bearer and a number of symbols on the cover and the inside, which, when viewed from different angles under ultra violet light emit different colours (blue and green), making it impossible to replicate.
Each page of the passport has a different and complex set of graphics and designs, including representations of Luís de Camões and Fernando Pessoa by artist Júlio Pomar and graphic designer Henrique Cayette. The passport also incorporates a unique chip, which contains all the personal details of the bearer, including name, age, place of birth, fingerprint and halogen photograph.
The new passport contains all the technology required by today’s international law, including the Electronic Visa Waiver Programme, which will allow Portuguese citizens entry into the United States.
The passport can be distinguished from a conventional passport through an internationally established symbol stamped on the cover, which shows that the passport has an electronic chip.
Those eligible for a Portuguese passport include people born in Portugal, those whereby one or both parents are Portuguese and those EU citizens who have been living and working in Portugal for at least 10 years and have had at least two Cartões de Residência (Residency permits).
José Magalhães, the Secretary of State for Internal Administration, informed that the government would open a counter at Lisbon Airport, managed by the Serviços de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), where it will be possible for citizens to be issued with a PEP in a same-day service if applied for before 12 noon.
The new PEP will set the government back an estimated 10 million euros. Four million will come directly from the government, while the other six million will be met by the INCM, which started producing the documents on August 29.
With the introduction of the new PEP, Portuguese consulates abroad will cease to issue passports and, instead, will simply collect biometric data from applicants and send it to Lisbon where the cards will be processed.
António Costa said that he felt confident that the new passport would reduce waiting lists at passport control barriers, and would protect the passport holder and the state from fraudsters and forgers.