Questions and answers about biometric travel documents and how their introduction will affect Dutch nationals living abroad.
1. Where outside the Netherlands can I apply for a new travel document?
Since 21 September 2009, you have been able to apply for a new passport at the local Dutch embassy or consulate-general, or alternatively at the municipal offices of The Hague (Foreign Documents Department, at the town hall in the city centre), Enschede, Maastricht or Echt-Susteren. In some countries, you can also apply at the local honorary consulate. The lists of embassies and consulates where you can apply for a travel document are published in the Government Gazette of 24 July 2009, no. 11202. You can also find these lists on this website. Worldwide, Dutch nationals can apply for a new passport at more than 180 applications offices.
In 2005, EU member states agreed that travel documents and visas should be better protected against fraud and misuse. So they decided to provide these documents with a second biometric feature: digital images of fingerprints (the first biometric feature being the digitised passport photograph). The improvement in security protection provided by biometric information is in the interests of both government and the citizen.
Incorporating fingerprints into travel documents and visas requires special equipment and specially trained staff. In 2005, we initially planned to record fingerprints only at embassies and consulates-general. But in order to optimise services to Dutch nationals living abroad, we later decided to supply certain honorary consulates with biometric equipment and train their staff in its use. Unfortunately, this only applies to those honorary consulates that receive large numbers of applications for travel documents and can accommodate the necessary modifications.
It is crucial to ensure that the personal details supplied by applicants are securely protected. Honorary consulates are private offices that previously had no secure connections with embassies. Such connections have therefore had to be designed and fitted. The honorary consulates concerned also have to meet the same physical security standards as those required of embassies and municipal offices under the Passport Regulations. And the staff of these honorary consulates have to be specially trained, because recording biometric information involves a new working procedure. The main criteria for authorising honorary consulates to continue receiving applications for travel documents are the annual number of applications they already receive and their ability to meet the security and training requirements.
Unfortunately, this means that you may have to travel farther to apply for a new passport than in the past – which may be inconvenient or annoying. But it is in your own interests that information about you is well protected.
At present, this possibility exists only in The Hague (Foreign Documents Department, at the town hall in the city centre), Enschede, Maastricht and Echt-Susteren. We are currently working with the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations to create more applications offices. We are also examining the scope for opening an applications office at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
You should receive your new passport within five to ten working days of applying. It has to be dispatched from Haarlem, where it is produced, so the delivery time will depend mainly on how long it takes to reach the country where you apply. The embassy or consulate can give you more precise details.
Yes, just as in the past. Only now, your fingerprints will be scanned when you apply.
When you collect your passport, you have the right to have your fingerprints scanned again and compared with those stored on the chip. Your fingerprints are not printed visibly in your passport.
The only offices that can check your fingerprints are those authorised under the Passport Act to receive applications for passports and issue them.
To prevent fraud and misuse – which is in your interests too.
No. The national passport and the Dutch identity card have a chip containing biometric features. Documents that are valid for 12 months or less (emergency documents) do not have such a chip.
A child under 16 that does not have its own passport may still be added to a parent’s travel document when that parent applies for a new one. But the EU has decided that, from 26 June 2012, it will no longer be possible to add children to passports. From that date, children must have their own travel document (the principle of one person, one passport). This means that children can no longer be added to a parent’s passport. All existing additions of children and child stickers will cease to be valid on 26 June 2012. This was announced by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations on 28 May 2009.
No fingerprints will be taken from children younger than 12 years.
In principle, this is not possible. You must appear in person to collect your passport in order to verify that your fingerprints match those contained in your travel document (see 8).
Under the current passport legislation, outside the Netherlands, it is permissible in exceptional circumstances to waive the obligation to collect a passport in person. The same exceptional circumstances will continue to exist with the introduction of the new passport. Ask for more details at the embassy or consulate.
These checks are carried out when you collect your passport at the office where you applied for it. Your fingerprints will then be scanned and checked again. Your fingerprints will also be scanned and checked at border crossings.
It takes only a few seconds. And processing them at the front office takes only a few minutes.
Most countries have chosen to allow travel document applications at embassies and consulates-general, but not at honorary consulates – unlike the Netherlands, which as a consequence has 180 applications offices abroad.
Some countries, such as Canada, even require their nationals residing abroad to return home to apply for a new travel document. As far as we know, the Netherlands is the only EU member state where you can apply for biometric passports at honorary consulates.
Yes. You can still go to any Dutch honorary consulate in the world, just as you would for any other service provided by an honorary consulate.
No. Making it possible to apply for a biometric passport at more than 180 locations worldwide actually costs more. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is investing €14 million in hardware, software, secure connections, physical security protection, and staff training.
The opening and closing of honorary consulates is not related to the introduction of the new passport. An honorary consul is appointed for five years. Towards the end of his or her term in office, the Ministry decides on a case-by-case basis whether that locality requires an honorary consulate. There are approximately 360 honorary consuls representing the Netherlands abroad. The contact details of these honorary consuls can be found on the websites of the Dutch consulates. In the list, search on country and then on consulate.