Sri Lanka Moves Towards Implementation of Biometric Fingerprint Programme


Sri Lanka - As globalization has led to large-scale migration, biometrics has become the standard for identity management. High standards at borders are vital to prevent cases of trafficking, smuggling, and other attempts at exploitation. Smoother and more transparent processes at borders enable nations to protect both regular and irregular migrants.

Huge strides have been made in the Sri Lankan Biometrics Project (SLBP), which aims to introduce an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to Sri Lanka’s passport issuance process. For Sri Lanka, this is a major step in raising the integrity of the national passport and facilitating the mobility of Sri Lankans.

To underpin this process, IOM has just hosted a high-profile symposium in Colombo to discuss and agree on key technical and functional requirements for the introduction of the AFIS to Sri Lanka’s passport issuance process. The system allows biometric fingerprint data captured from all passport applicants to be cross-checked against the official database.

The three-day workshop was chaired by the Controller General of the Sri Lanka Department of Immigration and Emigration (DI&E) and attended by senior DI&E personnel and IOM national, regional and international experts. As an outcome from this event, IOM will now embark on the development of the AFIS system design and integration methodology.

The workshop marked the launch of Phase II of the SLBP, which is funded by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), with IOM as the executing agency, in collaboration with the Sri Lankan DI&E. The project started in 2013 and delivered, during its first phase, a solution that requires the acquisition of ICAO compliant digital passport photographic records and the capture of biometric information.

For years Sri Lankan agencies have been working together to identify a practical and efficient solution to address identity fraud concerns. Initial assessments were conducted and the introduction of biometrics to Sri Lanka’s passport application lodgement and assessment process was a key recommendation.

The Controller General of DI&E Chulananda Perera said: “Moving onto Phase II is a gigantic step forward in Sri Lanka’s effort to strengthen the integrity of the Sri Lankan passport issuing process.”

Using biometrics will help address concerns regarding multiple identities and institute the “one person, one passport” policy. Previously, Sri Lanka has faced many challenges with people assuming multiple identities.

“By enhancing the security and integrity of the passport issuance process, the project will raise the profile of national travel documents and facilitate the mobility of Sri Lankan nationals,” said IOM Sri Lanka Chief of Mission Giuseppe Crocetti.

For more information please contact

Giuseppe Crocetti
IOM Sri Lanka