The Finnish Border Guard has announced a major expansion of its digital travel document pilot program at Helsinki Airport.
Finnish citizens will now be able to test the Digital Travel Credentials (DTC) when traveling on 22 Finnair routes to and from Helsinki, up from just three previously.
The trial period allowing border control to accept the digital passport will run until the end of March 2024.
Over 200 passengers have already used the service, with border checks taking less than 10 seconds on average.
Digital Credentials Offer Speed and Security
The DTC is a digital version of a physical passport, stored on the chip of an ID card or passport. It allows travelers to undergo border formalities quickly without compromising security or reliability.
By registering as a voluntary user, Finnish citizens can help develop next-generation digital travel documents.
The registration process at the airport police station takes just a few minutes.
“The DTC enables a smooth and fast border crossing without compromising safety,” said the Border Guard.
Feedback from participants will be critical for improving the digital credential technology.
Biometric Residence Permits Considered
As part of developing digital document security in Finland, the Immigration Service is examining residence permits with embedded biometric data.
The goal is to provide compatible digital credentials for different travel documents.
The Police Board is also testing chip error management with the DTC, using the chip data without the physical passport. This emphasizes the importance of strong digital backup systems.
Collaboration Between Public and Private Sectors
The pilot brings together government agencies like the Border Guard, Police Board, Immigration Service, and Finavia along with private companies like Finnair and Croatian digital security firm AKD.
Testing will continue on Finnair flights between Helsinki and 22 international destinations:
- Hong Kong
- New York
- Los Angeles
How to Participate in the Digital Passport Trial
Finnish citizens wishing to test the DTC must register at the airport police station or in Tikkurila.
Participants should hold a valid Finnish passport and be of legal age.
Instructions are available on the Border Guard’s website along with a feedback survey.
The authorities encourage broad participation from travelers to these destinations to help develop travel innovations that will facilitate immigration processes.
“Experience has shown that the system works and the checks are fast,” remarked the Border Guard.
The DTC trial was suspended on November 20th, 2023 due to the situation at its Eastern border and resumed on December 15th of the same year.
New Convenience for Visitors and Immigrants
The DTC could greatly improve the travel experience for both visitors and immigrants once implemented more broadly.
With the upcoming ETIAS visa waiver program launching in May 2025, the possibility of integrating digital credentials could facilitate immigration for legitimate travelers.
Whether moving to Finland temporarily for study or work or visiting family long-term, travelers will appreciate the security and ease of digital documents.
The quick border checks could assist digital nomads, investors, students, and those on extended visits.
DTC integration with ETIAS and wider Schengen systems could arise in the future.
Pushing Digital Transformation of EU Entry Procedures
Finland’s drive towards advanced digital credentials aligns with EU aims of improving immigration through technology.
As well as enhancing security protocols, the DTC tests display how travelers’ rights can be upheld while streamlining border crossings.
With Europe on track to deliver improved systems like ETIAS for visa-exempt entry, e-gates, and automated checks, Finland’s digital passport trial supports further coordination.
Successfully pioneering the use of technologies like document chips and biometrics sets an example.
What the Future Holds
Expanding digital travel document testing represents an investment by Finland in smoother, safer border crossings for years to come.
If trials prove successful, the use of credentials like the DTC could become standard practice globally, radically improving both security protocols and travel times.
Finland’s forward-thinking initiatives ensure it remains at the forefront of this technology.
As more routes and passengers participate in the digital passport pilot, authorities gain valuable data to optimize systems before any wider rollout.
For travelers, that promises less hassle and more flexibility.
Through such projects, Finland cements not just its own position but that of Europe as an innovator in digital infrastructure and governance.