Finnair passengers pioneer “border control without queuing”


Finland is pointing to a possible future of digital, paperless passports, thanks to a trial being conducted at Helsinki Airport, which Finland’s Border Guard calls “border control without queuing.”

This innovative trial, involving passengers using a Digital Travel Credential (DTC), began on August 28th 2023 on Finnair flights to London, Manchester and Edinburgh in the UK. It is scheduled to run until February 2024.

According to the Finnish Border Guard: “The pilot project will test the DTC in a real border control environment, reportedly for the first time in the world. The DTC is a digital version of a physical passport and is equally reliable. It allows smooth and fast border crossings without compromising security.”

To take part, Finnish citizens first of all need to download the FIN DTC Pilot app to their smartphones.  They then register for a Digital Travel Credential (DTC), which serves as a counterpart to the physical passport.

During registration, participants must provide a physical copy of their passport, sign a consent form, and have their photo taken, which will be used for facial recognition purposes. 

The DTC can for now only be used at Helsinki Airport for Finnair’s UK flights. Participants submit their data to the Finnish border guard through the app between four and 36 hours before departure.  There is a special queue at Helsinki airport for DTC users, where passengers look into a camera, their image is matched with the one that is registered, and they proceed onto their flight.

Upon arriving in the UK, passengers still need to clear UK immigration as normal. However, as EU citizens, Finns can use the E-Gates at UK airports.  

With the European Union having provided €2.3 million in funding, the Digital Travel Credential trials are due to be rolled out to Zagreb International Airport in Croatia, in the Autumn of this year.

Image via the Finnish Border Guard