Counterfeit currency and security documents

Identity and travel document fraud

The fraudulent use of identity and travel documents presents a threat to the security of countries and their citizens, the economy, and global commerce, as it facilitates a wide range of crimes and terrorism.  INTERPOL provides a number of specialized tools for the law enforcement community to help detect fraudulent documents, and works with partners in different sectors to improve the level of security of official documents.

The different types of document fraud

Criminals and terrorists often make fraudulent use of identity and travel documents in order to carry out their illegal activities. Both false and genuine documents are used to perpetrate a variety of frauds, which can be classified as follows:

False documents

Counterfeit– a document that constitutes an unauthorized reproduction of a genuine document. These documents are not legitimately manufactured, nor issued or recognized by an official authority.

Forgery– these are typically based on a genuine document, a part of which has been added or altered in order to give misleading information about the person who presents it.

Pseudo document– a document produced with no authority and which is not officially recognized. They can occur in various forms and may have the physical appearance of a passport or an ID card.

Genuine documents

Fraudulently obtained genuine document– an authentic identity or travel document obtained through deception by submission of either false or counterfeit documents, cooperation of a corrupt official or impersonation of the rightful holder of a genuine document.

Misuse of a genuine document through deceptionby a person who knowingly misrepresents him or herself by using someone else’s identity or travel document. Often, the biographical details and photograph resemble the impostor, helping him or her to pass as the rightful bearer.

INTERPOL’s activities

Among the services we provide to our member countries are technical databases, online reference tools, a forensic laboratory and tailored training programmes.

INTERPOL Travel and ID Document Reference Centre

With many thousands of different identity and travel documents in existence it can be a challenging task to differentiate between false and genuine documents. To help overcome these difficulties, INTERPOL provides a number of databases and reference libraries through its secure global police communications system, allowing member countries to conduct first-line checks and second-line inspection at airports, sea ports and border crossings as well as forensic laboratories.

  • The INTERPOL Stolen and Lost Travel Documents Databasecontains records of travel documents that have been reported as lost, stolen, stolen blank and revoked.
  • Dial-Docis a joint G8-INTERPOL initiative, which allows countries to share to share alerts on newly detected forms of document counterfeiting.
  • EdisonTDis a reference tool that contains images of genuine travel and identity documents.
  • DISCSis a database containing certificates of civil status such as birth, marriage, death, identity and citizenship.

Forensic laboratory

The Counterfeit Currency and Security Documents laboratory provides forensic support and expertise to law enforcement agencies investigating document fraud. These services include:

  • Sourcing, analysing and storing specimens of newly issued travel documents;
  • Uploading descriptions and images of specimens of travel documents into EdisonTD;
  • Producing technical analytical reports.

Training initiatives

We run training courses to help equip border control officers, forensic document examiners and law enforcement officials with the knowledge, skills and best practices needed to address travel and identity document fraud.

Our training courses and seminars are often carried out in partnership with other organizations, with the ultimate goal of encouraging innovation and turning training into operational practice.


The INTERPOL Counterfeit and Security Documents Working Group provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. The objective is to bring together stakeholders from the different fields concerned, including the law enforcement community, private industry, government agencies and non-profit organizations.

Our site uses cookies to ensure technical functionality, gather statistics and enable sharing on social media platforms.

Tell me more