Finnish physical passports. Photo: Santeri Viinamäki


Finnish travelers flying from Helsinki to select destinations in the UK can now utilise a Digital Travel Credentials (DTC) system as an alternative to physical passports. This groundbreaking pilot initiative is run by the Finnish Border Control in partnership with Finnair, the Finnish police, and airport operator Finavia. This is the first real-world implementation of a digital passport in a border control environment, signifying a notable shift in global travel documentation and procedure.

Finnish citizens traveling to London, Edinburgh, or Manchester via Finnair can opt for the digital system by downloading the FIN DTC Pilot app. Before activation, users must ensure phone screen locks (PIN, fingerprint, or face ID) are in place. Following app installation, travelers register at the Vantaa Main Police Station, where their photo is captured for future facial recognition. Post-registration, travelers can use the DTC at Helsinki Airport on direct Finnair flights to the UK until February 2024. Data submission to the Finnish Border Guard is required 36 to 4 hours before flying. At the airport, special queues are set up for DTC users. Their identity is verified through a comparison between the DTC photo and the one taken during the registration process, supplemented by facial recognition technology.

Finland's trial isn't an isolated effort. It's part of a wider EU initiative to enhance travel tech. The European Commission is currently assessing which member countries are keen on testing digital passports. Croatia has shown interest and plans to pilot a similar program at Zagreb Airport later this year. The outcomes from these trials will inform a potential EU-wide rollout of digital passports in the future.