Canada Coming Out with Electronic Passports Next Spring – But the Chips are Useless

Passports going electronic in theory could potentially speed up border crossings. Maybe even worldwide customs lines could be cut shorter. The ePassport could even include passport location tracking in the event you lose your passport abroad.

There’s supposed to be an electronic chip embedded inside in these new ePassports for Canadians. And they will have a maximum shelf life of 10 years, up from the standard five year passport.

But apparently the chips won’t do that much: “The goal of the ePassport is to improve security by combating fraud. It may, in some cases, help speed up border crossings, but there is no guarantee that this will be the case.”

The government wants to improve security but haven’t done anything to address the issue of lost or stolen passports abroad. The passports won’t even have location-tracking chips in them.

The government further says about the chip: “The chip in the Canadian ePassport is passive, which means that it does not have a power source. It cannot transmit signals over long distances. An ePassport reader must be held within 10 centimetres of an open passport book before it can capture the information on the chip. The only information that is on the chip is the information from page two of the passport. The chip does not transmit or record any other information.”

And yet Passport Canada is increasing fees to compensate for the cost of the new passport.

However, the ePassports are still pending parliamentary review.

Canadians do love to travel though, so it’s important for Canadians to have an opinion on the new electronic passports. There are all kinds of chip technologies that could be used in a multi-functional way to better serve Canadians who travel abroad.