Irish passport card wins international design award

10 May 2016

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan TD at the launch of the card in October 2015. Card not to scale, obviously!

Ireland’s new passport card, which includes optical security technology and a fraud prevention chip, has won an international design award.

The Department of Foreign Affairs was presented with Regional Best ID Document of the Year Award 2016 by Reconnaissance International at this year’s High-Security Printing Conference in Bucharest, Romania.

The programme’s prime contractor DLRS Group joined forces with HID Global, Absolute Graphics, and Purple Pod to design and produce Europe’s first passport card, which has been in circulation since October 2015.

‘It is also a tribute to the technical capabilities within Ireland’

The credit-card sized card is the first and only passport card deployed in Europe. Similar to the National Identity Cards of many other EU countries, it is acceptable to be used for international travel within the EU and European Economic Area (EEA).

It allows Irish citizens to travel within the EU and EEA without their traditional passports.

Combination of innovative design and technology


The award recognised the passport card for its innovative design, the combination of state-of-the-art technologies and a unique mobile application process. Citizens can obtain the card by applying online or through a smartphone app (iOS and Android) that allows the applicant to submit a compliant photo from a mobile device. Payments are made through a secure payment gateway.

The card is the first to combine optical security media and an ICAO-compliant chip that provide high levels of protection against attempts at fraud and counterfeiting.

Other innovations include a highly secure personalised embedded hologram photo; a unique anti-crack technology that protects the card from daily wear and tear, and direct bonding, which minimises the space required for the RFID chip, allowing the unique combination of security features.

As well as the holder’s signature, the card features a Kinegram overlay featuring a 12-string harp, specific tactile features, optically variable and thermochromic inks plus a covert diffractive image.

“We are delighted to receive this prestigious international award, which recognises the quality and innovation of the card, and the benefit it delivers to our citizens,” said Austin Gormley, director of Passport Services at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ireland.

“It is also a tribute to the technical capabilities within Ireland.”

Updated 4.15pm, 10 May 2016: Updated for clarity on what the rights afforded to users of the passport card are.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years