Sunday, April 06, 2008

Australian ePassport with embedded smartcard

My new Australian passport arrived only 13 days after I applied for it. This is an e-Passport or Biometric passport,with an embedded RFID chip in it with my digital photo. The cover of the passport has a symbol of a circle between two parallel bars, to indicate it has a chip, but otherwise looks like an ordinary paper passport.

There is a page about 0.5 mm thick in the middle of the passport which feels like heavy cardboard. This has the chip in it. When I hold it up to the light, I can see a credit card shape embedded in the page. The way this appears to have been done is to take the same mechanism as used in a contactless smart card and embed it in the page.

The data on the chip is protected with encryption, but the key is contained in the optically readable text in the passport. This is intended to prevent someone reading your passport electronically without opening it.

The wzMRTD free software can be used with wzPASS, to read electronic passports

Here are some of the data items wzMRTD supplies:
  • fullName
  • Document number
  • nationality
  • dateOfBirth
  • sex
  • dateOfExpiry
  • facial image
Apart from the biometric data (facial image), these are the same items of data from the Machine Readable Passport Standard.

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