BRASÍLIA, Brazil – The government is seeking to improve security and reduce fraud and losses among its citizens by changing passports, civil identity cards, and birth, marriage and death certificates.
The new passport was issued by the Federal Police (PF) in Brasília, as well as in Goiânia, capital of the state of Goiás, on Dec. 6. By the end of month, the process will start to be implemented nationwide.
An electronic device for recording data (chip) on the cover of the new passport is the main improvement.
The chip will store the personal and biometric information of its bearer, including a facial photograph, two fingerprints and signature, which will help officials to determine the document is genuine, Federal Police officials say.
This new technology makes identity theft more difficult and is expected to aid immigration control officers at airports and immigration stations. International arrivals and departures at the International Airport of Brasília will take less than 60 seconds because the new documents can be verified more quickly, Federal Police officials say.
To make counterfeiting more difficult, maps of Brazil visible only when exposed to ultraviolet light are printed on the back cover of the new electronic passports. Another safety feature is the digital certificate that authenticates the chip, allowing immigration officials to confirm the data stored on the device were created by the Federal Police.
The protection of biometric information by the Extended Access Control (EAC) protocol, which permits access to data stored on the chip only after verification of a specific digital certificate, also is a key component.
The features make the new passport 100% safe, says Edmeres Tavares, Commissioner for the Immigration Bureau of the Federal Police, as reported by the newspaper Correio Braziliense.
“This was something that had been studied for several years and is an investment for the future,” Tavares says. “It will certainly make things much more convenient.”
There will be three models of the new passport – each with its own color. The regular passport booklet will be blue. The model issued to foreigners will be tan, and the new laissez-passer (granted to holders of travel documents not recognized by the Brazilian government) will be brown.
Holders of older passports may continue to use them until their expiration date.
The system adopted in Brazil also is being used in the United States, Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and European Union countries.
New ID card will be put into circulation beginning Jan. 17
The traditional identity card, the so-called General Registry (RG), will be replaced with the Civil Identity Registry (RIC) beginning Jan. 17.
The RIC is a magnetic card with a fingerprint and electronic chip containing information such as the holder’s name, gender, date of birth, photograph, place of birth and signature, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Each citizen will be recognized by way of a unique number.
“The results of the RIC program are extremely important,” Ricardo Lewandowsky, chairman of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, told Agência Brasil. “These measures can help mitigate grievous harm to the state and the public purse through the prevention of crime.”
That is the hope of Brazilians such as Juscelino Rodrigo de Lima, a 30-year-old who had his RG stolen in a robbery three months ago in the city of Águas Claras, in the state of Goiás.
“I think it will make things safer,” Lima says. “At least that’s what we’ve been led to believe. I am quite scared that my name will get mixed up in some wrongdoing or that I’ll have my money stolen.”
In the initial stage of RIC implementation, citizens will be randomly selected to replace their RG with the new cards, according to the Ministry of Justice. Those recipients will receive a letter with information about how to request their new RIC.
Residents of Brasília, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador will be the first to receive the offer.
“Each state sent to the Ministry of Justice a list of people based upon recent registrations,” said Paul Airan, Executive Secretary of the RIC Steering Committee. “About 125,000 people will receive their RIC during the first phase.”
During the first six months of 2011, the pilot will be extended to Hidrolândia (Goiás), Ilha de Itamaracá (Pernambuco), Nísia Floresta (Rio Grande do Norte) and Rio Sono (Tocantins).
Implementation of the RIC will not affect the validity of other identification documents.
The government’s goal is to issue two million new cards in 2011. Within a decade, all current identity documents should be replaced by the RIC.
In 2011, the issuance of RIC cards will be fully financed by the Ministry of Justice, at no cost to the public. The initial investment will be about R$90 million (US$54 million), according to the ministry.
Birth, marriage and death certificates will also be safer, as they will be printed on special paper containing the watermark of the National Mint.
To prevent fraud and forgery, the certificates will have safety features like the word “authentic” emblazoned across the back and visible only under ultraviolet light.
Beginning in February, Brazil’s 1,200 Civil Registry offices will receive new computers and training courses for their employees, according to the National Judicial Council (CNJ).