Much coveted and now even harder to get: in late 2022, a new Swiss passport with top-notch security features was introduced.
In recent years, the counterfeiting and forgery of secure travel documents such as passports have become increasingly prevalent worldwide. According to Europol's 2017 SOCTA report, document fraud is one of eight priority crime threats that can facilitate or enhance all forms of serious and organized crime.
The Swiss government has recognized the importance of addressing this issue. With the previous Swiss passport iteration going back to 2006, Switzerland has taken a giant leap forward to enhance the security features of its latest passport.
All images used in this post are copyright Robin Bucher/Retinaa SA.
Digital security measures in the 2023 Swiss passport
The Swiss government has implemented several digital measures to protect its passport document against fraud and forgery.
One of the most notable features is the clever use of biometric technology. Each passport includes a chip that stores the holder's personal data, including a digital version of the passport holder's photograph, fingerprints, and signature.
The chip is located in the hinge and can be read by special scanners at border control points, allowing authorities to quickly and accurately verify the passport holder's identity.
This makes it much harder for someone to forge or alter the document, as the biometric data can be easily checked against the holder's physical features.
This is important not only for the protection of the passport holder's identity but also for the safety and security of the country as a whole.
Online passport application process
As of 2023, there is a new online application process that allows individuals to apply for a passport from the comfort of their homes. This process includes several security measures to prevent fraudulent applications, such as verifying the identity through various government databases.
The new Swiss passport includes a digital signature that allows authorities to verify the passport's authenticity electronically. This signature is unique to each passport and cannot be forged.
All personal data stored on the passport's chip is encrypted, making it difficult for hackers to access or steal the information.
Physical security features against fraud and forgery
In addition to the biometric chip and other digital measures, the new Swiss passport also includes several other security features that make it difficult to forge or alter.
The passport's pages are printed on watermarked paper that is difficult to replicate or alter. And it's resistant to water, tearing, and fading, ensuring that the Swiss passport will hold up to the rigors of international travel.
Orell Füssli AG in Zürich is commissioned as the official printer for Swiss passports.
The passport holder's photograph is laser-engraved onto the passport’s data page, making it nearly impossible to alter or replace. This page in itself is made of polycarbonate.
The latest Swiss passport features holographic elements that change color and reflect light when viewed from different angles. These elements are extremely difficult to replicate, making it difficult for forgers to create fake passports.
The passport includes UV-sensitive ink that glows under UV light, making it easy for authorities to spot any attempts to alter the passport.
Got space for more physical security features?
The new Swiss passport also includes various features that make it more difficult to forge or alter, such as micro printing, guilloche patterns, and optically variable ink. These features are designed to be extremely difficult to replicate, making it nearly impossible for forgers to create fake passports.
The high-tech security features underline that Switzerland continues to be a safe place to live and visit. And the passport shines a light on Switzerland's reputation as an innovative nation.
A word about the design of the new Swiss passport
With all this talk about its security features, you might think that the passport's design is nothing to write home about.
Think again! Designed by the Retinaa SA agency in Geneva, the document's sleek and modern design reflects Switzerland's identity and values. Across the many illustrations, Switzerland is depicted as a country that treasures its history and identity while striving to be a modern player.
As such, the passport introduces the identities of the 26 cantons by highlighting Alpine peaks, valleys, rivers, and lakes.
To drive home the overarching theme of “mountains and water,” the passport cover features a snow-capped mountain range, symbolizing Switzerland's natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle. Flipping to the passport’s first page, you will notice Pizzo Rotondo, the highest mountain in the Gotthard massif and the source of some of Switzerland's largest rivers.
And for the first time in the passport’s history, Swiss citizens living abroad are represented on a dedicated visa page.
The passport symbolizes Switzerland's global role as a neutral and respected member of the international community. As a passport recognized and accepted by 150 countries and territories around the world, it reflects Switzerland's status as a country that is respected and trusted by its peers.
How long will the current Swiss passport remain valid?
The 2006 version of the Swiss passport remains valid until its expiry date. At this point, a new Swiss passport will be issued.
Where to find the Passbüro Zürich?
The Passbüro Zürich, or Zurich Passport Office, is located at the following address: Neugasse 7, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland. It is easily accessible by public transportation, with the S-Bahn (train) station "Zürich Stadelhofen" and the tram stops "Neugasse" and "Belleriveplatz" located nearby.
What to call the Swiss passport in the national languages?
The official national languages of Switzerland each have their own name for the Swiss passport. And this would not be Switzerland if each Swiss national language was represented on the passport’s front cover.
Here is what the Swiss passport is referred to in the national languages:
- German: Schweizer Pass or Schweizer Reisepass
- French: Passeport suisse
- Italian: Passaporto svizzero
- Rumansh: Passaport svizzer
So, what do you think about the new Swiss passport?
This state-of-the-art document may just be the most secure passport in the world, no? As we tried to show, it is also a testament to Switzerland's commitment to innovation, security, and quality.
The inclusion of a biometric chip and numerous physical and digital security features is a game changer, rendering it nearly impossible for someone to forge or alter the Swiss passport.
And then, there's that iconic color scheme featuring a white cross on a red background. What other nation's passport is as uniquely identifiable?