APEC has launched a new guide to help governments implement change to replace century old passports technology with new biometric passports embedded with microchips.
Launched today in Melbourne, the "Guide to Biometric Technology in Machine Readable Travel Documents" provides technical and case experience information for governments in the APEC region and elsewhere around the world to upgrade their passport technology.
Biometric enhanced passports that include an electronic microchip (ePassports) help protect people's identity and facilitate secure travel.
The Project Overseer for the development of the new APEC guide, Mr. David Merz, said the guide will provide practical assistance to help governments protect against the fraudulent use of passports.
"This guide is a great tool for any government setting about introducing a biometric passport," Mr. Merz said at the launch.
"The guide draws on input from technical experts as well as best practices and experiences of those governments who have already introduced ePassports.
"This guide will contribute significantly to identity security and travel safety within and beyond APEC."
The guide, that is now available for download from the APEC website, includes chapters on relevant legal frameworks, privacy, project management, and funding models. These chapters can be downloaded and used by governments to plan the different stages involved in introducing ePassports.
The guide is available here.
The launch was attended by industry experts and representatives from governments around the region including Australia, New Zealand Papua New Guinea, Peru, Thailand and Viet Nam.
ePassports, a revolutionary improvement in passport technology to replace the previous common passport design that has been in existence for centuries, was formally adopted as the standard by a League of Nations conference in 1920. The only other significant improvement before the introduction of ePassports was the agreement by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for the adoption of machine readable passports in 1981.
Australia, as a member of the APEC Business Mobility Group, has led this APEC project to develop a web based guide to introducing ePassports. Australia began issuing ePassports to its own citizens in 2005. These ePassports contain an electronic version of the bearer's photo and biodata, thus making the Australian ePassport more secure from fraudulent alteration.
The completion and release of the guide is one of the achievements of APEC 2007 hosted by Australia that reaches its climax with the APEC Leaders' Meeting in Sydney next week.

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