Five steps to secure eResidence Permits

Last updated: 05 April 2024

What are EU eRPs?

An eResidence Permit (eRP) is a crucial document that allows foreign nationals to stay in the European Union (EU) beyond the initial three months. It serves as a legal proof of residence and provides essential information about the holder’s status.

In light of recent incidents involving high-quality eRP counterfeits, there are some concerns around the existing eRP design in terms of security. In this blog, we share recommendations for document issuers on how to enhance eRP security and keep people’s identities safe…

Techniques used by fraudsters

While Electronic Residence Permits offer convenience and efficiency, they are also highly targeted by bad actors for carrying out identity fraud. The production of counterfeit documents is a profitable industry for organised crime across Europe, with a Europol-led operation seizing over 5,000 false ID documents in Greece between September 2023 and February 2024.

Fraudsters are using sophisticated printing methods to create counterfeits, with background printing, UV printing and embossing all being imitated to various levels of effectiveness. While some counterfeits are convincing, others can be easily spotted by examining the document in more detail with a magnifying glass or microscope.

In recent times, fraudsters have been using polycarbonate or polycarbonate-like materials, such as plexiglass. These materials have become a popular choice for creating counterfeit documents due to their suitability for laser engraving. However, it is possible to spot fake engraving by the quality of the personalisation.

Incredibly, some fake eRP cards also have a functioning chip. For example, cards with JavaCard OS can be easily bought online, enabling fraudsters to install Java-based applications (applets) to store personal data in the chip. Our blog for International Fraud Awareness Week highlights the ways you can help keep your digital identity safe.

Recommendations to improve eRP security

To mitigate risks and enhance eRP security, we recommend the following best practices:

  1. Regular redesigns: Implement a full redesign of eRPs every five years. This practice will make sure that fraudsters cannot rely on outdated designs and security features.
  2. More distinct designs for EU countries: Allow for more differences in common eRP design across EU Member States. Unique visual elements combined with more flexible implementation make it harder for counterfeiters to create uniform forgeries.
  3. Complex and interlinked security features: Bolster security by incorporating intricate features such as multiple transparent and semi-transparent windows and borders which increase security as they are much harder for counterfeiters to imitate. This would help to protect the card authenticity.
  4. Encrypted data: Protect portrait and other critical data by adding invisible hidden data. This will prevent copying and tampering.
  5. Electronic verification: Implement electronic checks during eRP inspection to ensure data integrity and to prevent cloning.

Many of these features are already employed in the production of passports. By adopting these measures, EU countries can bolster eRP security, safeguard residents, and maintain the trust of stakeholders. eRPs play a vital role in managing immigration and residency, and their security must remain a top priority for governments and organisations alike.

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