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New style ePassport released today

Hon Nathan Guy
Minister of Internal Affairs

23 November 2009
Media Statement

New style ePassport released today

Minister of Internal Affairs Nathan Guy has announced the roll-out of a new style of ePassport from today, containing new artwork and security features.

“The new security features will help to future-proof our passport against fraudsters and maintain visa-free entry for New Zealanders into more than 50 countries.

“The New Zealand passport has an outstanding reputation around the world and these changes will further enhance that. As a country we need to take advantage of the latest advances in technology to maintain international confidence in our passport.”

As well as improved security features, the new ePassport features unique artwork telling the story of New Zealand through themes of navigation and travel. The cover is black with a silver fern design and the language is English and Te Reo Maori throughout.

“This new style of passport will be gradually phased in over the next few months. Both the new and existing passports are secure, valid and equally accepted.”

The price of a new passport is unchanged.

Questions on the new ePassport

Traditional style passport New style passport


When does it become available?

The Department of Internal Affairs is gradually introducing the new style ePassport over the next few months as it uses up stock of the existing traditional style ePassport. The Department will issue the traditional style ePassport and new style ePassport at the same time for a transition period. When stocks of the traditional style ePassport are used up, the Department will only issue the new style ePassport.

Why is there a phased introduction of the new style ePassport?

Issuing both the traditional style ePassport and new style ePassport enables the Department to prudently use up its existing stock and embed the systems associated with the new style ePassport. Traditional style ePassports can continue to be produced while the Department resolves any issues with the systems associated with the new style ePassport, should they arise.

We have designed our approach to ensure that New Zealand citizens continue to receive a passport during the transition period.

Are you expecting any problems with the new style ePassport?

No, the new style ePassport books and the machines used to produce them have been rigorously tested. As a risk mitigation the Department has international specialists on site to help resolve any system issues. Issuing both the new style ePassport and the traditional style ePassport at the same time enables new systems to be proven and any technical issues to be addressed while ensuring that citizens will continue to receive a passport during the transition period. Every passport that is issued to the public will have met exacting technical standards. Passport holders should face no technical issues when they use the new style ePassport to travel.

Will the new style ePassport work for travel?

Yes The new style ePassport has been tested with key international border agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security in the United States and been accepted for use.

Do other countries know about the new style ePassport?

Yes. Passport agencies all over the world regularly produce new versions of their passports. Agencies have established processes to keep each other informed, well ahead of time, of any changes. The Department of Internal Affairs has communicated with all key border agencies, both overseas and in New Zealand, as well as key audiences such as airlines and travel agents.

Why is the photograph in the new style ePassport black and white?

The laser engraving process used to personalise the new style ePassport means that the passport holder’s physical photo in the new style ePassport book is greyscale. The electronic chip image is in colour. The greyscale photo in the new style ePassport will not prevent New Zealand passport holders from travelling overseas. Greyscale photos printed in passport books are commonly used internationally. All New Zealand passport applicants must continue to supply colour photos with their applications.

Why did you include new artwork in the new style ePassport?

The purpose of the new artwork is to enhance the security of the new style ePassport and to better reflect New Zealand’s identity. Each page is different, making the new style ePassport much more difficult to counterfeit. The artwork has been produced using a secure process. The last time the artwork was reviewed was 17 years ago in 1992.

How was the new artwork chosen?

A group of prominent New Zealand artists, as well as officials from across the Government, were responsible for making decisions on the artwork, including the themes. A design firm was responsible for developing the artwork.

Why did you choose that particular design?

The new design for the New Zealand Passport better reflects New Zealand’s identity and depicts themes of navigation and travel. The artwork is of specific locations throughout New Zealand, showing a journey heading north to south, the same direction as many of the early migrants to New Zealand. The artwork also contains images of navigation tools used by explorers of New Zealand throughout the ages, progressing chronologically with early features highlighted at the start to modern techniques portrayed at the end of the book. The new style ePassport is in English and Te Reo Maori throughout.

Does the new style ePassport give me any advantages over the existing traditional style ePassport? i.e. will I get through Customs faster?

No – holders of both passport styles will be treated equally.

Will the traditional style passports work with Smartgate?

Yes, as long as it is an ePassport. Both the traditional style ePassport that the Department currently issues and the new style passport are ePassports. All ePassport holders (aged 18 and over) will be able to use Smartgate, the automated passenger clearance system for holders of New Zealand and Australian ePassports. New Zealand passport holders who do not have an ePassport will not be able to use Smartgate.

The New Zealand Customs Service will introduce Smartgate in Auckland next month for arriving New Zealand and Australian ePassport holders. New Zealand passport holders who do not have an ePassport will not be able to use Smartgate.

How do I know if I have an ePassport?

An ePassport has the rectangular ePassport symbol on the cover as below. It also has a thick interior polycarbonate page containing the chip.

What about security? Am I more secure with the new one?

All New Zealand passports are secure. There is no security impact for you as an individual passport holder from the new style ePassport. The security features in the new style ePassport are about protecting New Zealand’s borders and reputation. As a country we always need to take advantage of the latest advances in technology to maintain international confidence in the New Zealand passport.

If your New Zealand passport is lost or stolen, report it to the Police and the Department of Internal Affairs. People trying to use a New Zealand passport reported as lost or stolen will be refused travel.

The Department of Internal Affairs treats reports of lost or stolen passports extremely seriously and takes immediate action to protect the integrity of the New Zealand passport and maintain visa-free access to more than 50 countries for New Zealand passport holders.

How much did it cost to produce the new style ePassport?

The Department has a contract with Canadian Bank Note to supply new style ePassport books and passport machines for just under $100 million over five years. This cost reflects the increasing volumes of passport applications due to the move to five year passport validity in April 2005. The price of a new passport is unchanged. The bulk of the cost for the supply of the new style passport books is part of the Department’s ongoing costs for blank passport books.

What are the benefits of the new style ePassport?

As a country we always need to take advantage of the latest advances in technology to maintain international confidence in the New Zealand passport to stay ahead of fraudsters who try to produce counterfeit passports.

The security features in the new style ePassport will make it extremely difficult for anyone to make counterfeit passports.

ENDS

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