The Finnish and Croatian authorities are testing the use of Digital Travel Credentials (DTC) in an on-going pilot project during 2023. The goal is to test the use of digital credentials for cross-border air travel.
The technical capabilities for testing the digital travel credential will be constructed at the border inspection of Helsinki Airport and Zagreb International Airport shortly. In cooperation with Finnair airline and volunteered passengers, the Finnish authorities will also be testing the use of digital travel credentials with both departing and arriving passengers on the UK flight routes to London, Manchester and Edinburgh. The aim is to enable testing of digital travel credentials at Helsinki Airport during summer 2023.
A digital travel credential (DTC) is a digital version of a passport and is as reliable and secure as a physical travel document itself. DTCs enables smooth border crossing without compromising safety and with the customer experience in the centre. In the future, it is planned that DTCs will enable travellers to make even more extensive use of digital identification, for example, to seamlessly transfer from the parking area to boarding the aircraft utilising all services provided at the airport without having to present a passport at any point.
The DTC pilot project is led by the Headquarters of the Finnish Border Guard in partnership with Finnair, the Croatian Ministry of the Interior and the Croatian company AKD d.o.o., which has expertise in IT solutions related to identity cards. Also partnering in the project are the National Police Board, the Finnish Immigration Service and Finavia formerly known as the Finnish Civil Aviation Administration. The project has received funding of €2.3 million from the Instrument for Financial Support for Border Management and Visa Policy (BMVI) of the EU Commission's Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME).
In addition to the sub-projects involving both Finland and Croatia, the pilot also includes two sub-projects designated to Finland solemnly. The first of these is the development of a rapidly deployable digital residence permit based on a digitally signed barcode. In the current situation, not all EU Member States have been able to manufacture residence permits for all the persons in need of temporary protection due to the situation in Ukraine. The aim of the EU Commission is to offer EU countries the digital residence permit document developed through the pilot as a shared temporary solution for situations where there are problems in the manufacture of or specifications for the actual card-based residence permit.
The second sub-project that involves only Finland is concerned with the management of DTC chip malfunctions. DTCs make use only of the chip contained in a passport or identity card, not the physical document itself, so the management of chip malfunctions is even more critical than in the present system. The aim is also to make use of the developed error management system in the current border control process.
Alongside the Finland–Croatia DTC project, digital travel credentials are being piloted simultaneously in another project involving air traffic between the Netherlands and Canada. Both projects are generating information for the legislative needs of the EU Commission as part of the EU Commission’s extensive policy package on digital identity.