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INTERPOL Travel Document initiative

103 Recognizing countries

INTERPOL has developed its first ever travel documents (e-Passport Booklet and e-Identification Card). These are intended to enable officials working for INTERPOL and for its member countries' National Central Bureaus and law enforcement agencies to travel internationally on official INTERPOL business, by benefiting from visa facilitations granted by member countries when assisting in transnational investigations or urgent deployments.

Facing today's challenges

The crossing of international borders by law enforcement officials is a necessary reality in combating today’s global security challenges. INTERPOL operates in a world transformed by the transport and Internet revolutions. Whilst largely beneficial, these changes have also facilitated globalized crime, with international criminals exploiting technological advances to further their activities.

One of the most significant hurdles faced by international law enforcement officials in the fight against international crime is the lack of speed and ease with which assistance can be  provided to those countries requesting it. Indeed, when an affected country requests assistance, it can take anywhere from 24 hours to eight weeks for law enforcement personnel to be issued with visas and arrive at the scene.

“Criminals can cross borders swiftly and effortlessly, while our Heads of National Central Bureaus, law enforcement colleagues and even our General Secretariat staff are slowed down or stopped because of legitimate but time consuming visa requirements and bureaucratic international red tape, which constitutes a major impediment to keeping the world safe.” Ronald K. Noble, INTERPOL Secretary General.

Speeding up INTERPOL’s response

It was with this need in mind that in 2009 the INTERPOL Executive Committee endorsed a proposal to create an INTERPOL Travel Document that would enable authorized officials travelling on official INTERPOL-related business to enter member countries whenever and wherever needed.

Member countries ratified this initiative at the 79th session of the INTERPOL General Assembly in Qatar in 2010, opening the way for the use of a new police cooperation tool and greater inter-state cooperation.

The INTERPOL Travel Document bypasses the lengthy visa requirements set by member countries, allowing quick entry to law enforcement officials. Member countries make this possible by agreeing to assign specially derived visa facilitations for INTERPOL Travel Document holders. This allows member countries to choose which arrangements suit them when granting special visa facilitations to INTERPOL Travel Document holders.

Making the world safer

With more and more countries joining the initiative every day, the INTERPOL Travel Document has become a critical INTERPOL tool for police cooperation. Together with INTERPOL’s 24/7 Command and Coordination Centre (CCC) and specialized operational teams, it ensures that whenever there is a call for assistance – in a crisis situation, natural disaster, investigation, or for a major international event – this call is promptly answered.

Setting new standards in document security

When the INTERPOL Travel Document initiative was launched, its ambition was not only to enable law enforcement officers to carry out their duties, but also to set new standards in travel document security and identity management.

Constantly striving to integrate the most advanced security features, INTERPOL continues to raise the bar for travel document security, most notably through its second generation of documents developed in cooperation with Entrust and Safran Morpho in 2012. Both documents comply with the international standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The INTERPOL Travel Document adheres to strict procedures defined in a Security Charter, which was adopted by member countries in a Resolution at the 81st INTERPOL General Assembly in Italy in 2012. Under the further monitoring of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF) and the INTERPOL Travel Document Committee, the INTERPOL General Secretariat takes all the necessary measures to protect information security and to ensure that no misuse of data takes place and that no unauthorized persons have access to any data pertaining to the holder.

Connecting Police for a Safer World

INTERPOL Travel Document in International Publications