Biometric passports add a range of new security features to the traditional passport, with an embedded microchip containing the holder’s personal information. They were introduced about ten years ago due to the ever-increasing global threat of identity theft and terrorism, pushing many countries to improve their border security measures.
Forming part of a $13m investment to improve and upgrade the border management system, the Commonwealth of Dominica has announced that it will be introducing e-passports or biometric passports in 2021. The news comes in a bid to assist airport officials in cultivating a watch list for persons of interest before they arrive in the country. The new passports will further serve to keep a close and reliable eye on both passengers and cargo crossing the border, enabling systems to record travellers’ fingerprints as they enter and facilitate the inspection of secondary information.
The most significant aspect of this move from machine-readable to biometric passports is that the latter is virtually counterfeit-proof. Dominica will be the only country, aside from the Bahamas, to have these fully upgraded passports in the Caribbean.
Featuring the latest technology, biometric passports offer features that include facial, fingerprint and iris recognition, adding an additional layer of monitoring that is crucial to border security. As such, this facilitates far more stringent security checks that can be used during the due diligence stages of second passport application processing for countries offering CBI programmes.
Dominica’s CBI Programme, ranked number one in the world by the recently released CBI Index 2020, allows well-vetted investors and their families to contribute to a government fund or pre-approved real estate on the island in exchange for citizenship. Those who gain a second passport to Dominica reap the benefits of being able to live, work and study on the island; as well as travel to nearly 150 international destinations visa-free. More notably, Dominica’s CBI Programme, known for its exemplary practices, is lauded for its extensive due diligence procedures, efficiency and affordability, further enhanced by the introduction of biometric passports.
One of the most attractive features of the programme, apart from its affordability, is its family friendliness. Dominica has recently extended the scope of eligibility for dependents and post-citizenship additions. It scored top marks in the Index for ‘family inclusiveness’, with the programme allowing siblings to join an application, as well as parents and grandparents at no extra cost.
Currently, some 89 countries worldwide have biometric passports, with ten Citizenship by Investment Programme countries using them. Another front runner in the CBI index, St Kitts and Nevis, announced earlier this year that it would be rolling out biometric-shared background checks. This forms a compulsory part of its due diligence process that every applicant must pass to be considered for economic citizenship, ensuring thorough screening of applicants.