Passports are becoming highly secure pieces of art

Last updated: 16 November 2016


As we make our way through our everyday, we pass countless examples of incredible design. Creators have poured years of their lives into thinking about how things look and feel, as well as the effect their designs have on others. From the buildings we work in, to the chairs we sit in and the devices we use, every last detail has been thought through.

We embrace iconic design, from the red British phone booth, to the Italian Vespa, and the Boeing 747. Good design goes far beyond function, and in today’s world we gravitate towards products that look as good as they perform.

We expect excellent design in consumer products, from the Sony Walkman to the Apple iPhone, but some of the most cutting-edge design going on right now may actually be coming from governments.

There is a new breed of ePassports being issued to citizens around the world that combine the latest security features, while also pushing the envelope in terms of design.

People take great pride in their passport, seeing it as a symbol of their national identity. The Norwegian police tapped into this sentiment by holding a competition to create their country’s latest passport. The winning design came from Oslo-based studio Neue, inspired by their country’s landscapes.

Neue Design Studio Norwegian passport

At first glance, it just looks like a peaceful natural vista, of the type you’d see if you travelled into the countryside. The judges appreciated the minimalist beauty, but it was under UV light, that the design really came to life.

Neue Design Studio Norwegian passport UV

The northern lights appear over the mountains as a moon shines brightly over the lake. But the image isn’t just for looks – it’s actually a security measure with aspects like the customizable text at the base of the page making it even harder for forgers to crack.

We are proud to be the ones selected to make this striking design a reality and are now working closely with Neue and the National Police Directorate to find a way to balance the design with the complicated security expectations of a passport.

neue design studio id card

Norway isn’t the only country pushing ahead with  radical new design. Not willing to be outdone by the neighbors, Sweden has also pushed ahead with their own sleek passport designs that also alter when viewed under UV light.

passport design sweden Gemalto

And from the other side of the globe Malaysia offer an incredible image of the Petronas Twin Towers.

malaysia UV passport Gemaltoi

Of course, there are many techniques that go into making an ePassport secure from the types of inks used to how the images are laid onto the page. If you’re interested in learning more, we go much more into detail in our 7-step guide to passport security design.

As these passports show, design is playing a more important role than ever. And when paired with a robust security approach, governments can delight people with a product that is as striking as it is secure.

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