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Identity document validation

The Home Office has published guidance on ‘Identity document validation technologies’ (IDVT). There are products to help you establish the authenticity of documents presented for identity verification, typically passports, biometric residence permits, driving licences or ID cards. As the Home Office points out, staff doing manual checking of documents may not be used to checking different forms of IDs.

There are three elements of a document check:

– checking whether a document is genuine – ‘many false identity documents look real to untrained individuals who are required to check documents. IDVTs make it easier to authenticate them’

– Identity Document validation – ‘even when a document is genuine, it is not possible to confirm whether or not it has been cancelled following theft or loss. Many IDVTs are able to make checks against other databases, such as Interpol’s lost and stolen passport data’; and

– linking the holder to the document – ‘it is often hard to match document holders to the photograph on identity documents. Sometimes the document holder’s image will have altered, for example if their hair style and colour changes. Many IDTVs include facial matching technology to enable the person checking the document to link it to the holder.’

IDVTs will check whether a document is genuine, but many systems also include checks against relevant data sources and incorporate facial matching.

The guidance covers evaluating the types of IDVTs to meet particular needs, procuring, types of documents that IDVTs may be able to check, how IDVTs can be integrated into other services; limitations on using IDVTs; and how to train staff in using the products – whether software or hardware such as card readers, smartphones, webcams, and flatbed scanners.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed that there are no legal barriers to the sharing of fraudulent document data identified through the use of IDVTs as long as you have adequate data handling procedures in place and that the information is only being shared for a specific purpose, namely for the prevention and detection of crime (such as immigration abuses).



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