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Post-Brexit passport checking tool to start pilot

The government is looking for companies that can carry out large-scale tests of the Document Checking Service, which will allow organisations to digitally check the validity of passports

Applications are now open for the Document Checking Service (DCS) pilot, intended to support electronic checks of British passports in private sector organisations.

The DCS is a technical component run by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and will check passport details against the HM Passport Office (HMPO) database.

The service was originally developed as part of Verify, the government’s troubled digital identity scheme. Users creating a Verify account to access online public services can submit their passport details to help to prove they are who they say they are, but this function has only been available for government services. The new pilot is intended to test the use of DCS for private sector transactions, such as banks, credit cards or airlines.

For the purposes of the trial, passport checks, which could take place at most large-scale businesses after the UK leaves the European Union, “must be to prevent crime”, according to the government, such as for preventing fraud or identity theft.

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and GDS, companies will need to pay a one-off connection fee for the pilot and 50p per passport check. Trial participants must be able to carry out at least 5,000 checks to take part in the year-long test.

The DCS will send organisations a “yes” or “no” response to say whether the passport is valid. Companies will not have any access to data held by the government.

The pilot is intended to test industry demand for checking information given by users – passport number, forenames, surname, date of birth and passport expiry date – against government data sources, and test the technical design that would make these checks possible.

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The idea is to also gain an understanding of the different ways organisations could use digital passport checks and if the service could be commercially viable.

Consumer interest and experience of the checks will also be assessed during the trial, as well as perception of this use of passport data.

Organisations can express interest in joining the pilot by 20 October 2019. 

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