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Record number of passports expire in 2016

More than 800,000 Finnish passports will no longer be valid during this year, which may mean a rush for renewals.

Sormenjälkisanneri käytössä Pasilan poliisitalon palvelupisteessä.
Two fingerprint scans are necessary for a biometric passport. Image: Helsingin poliisilaitos

It’s anticipated that 2016 will be an exceptionally busy one for the permit departments of police stations throughout Finland, as more than 800,000 expiring passports will need to be renewed during this year.

Many ten-year passports expire this fall and lack fingerprint scans that are mandatory for biometric passports. Those holders will be unable to renew passports online and will need to make an appointment at a police station for fingerprint scans and signatures.

At the country’s largest police station in Helsinki’s Pasila approximately 300 passport applications are processed daily. On average, about 200,000 passports are processed annually.

Although the Pasila police do not want to speculate on how many applications there will be this year, they do say that one of the trends they have noticed is a marked increase in the number of older people applying for passports.

”A larger number of older people travel a lot more these days,” says Petra Vänttinen, head of permits at the Pasila police station.

One of the challenges with biometric passports is getting fingerprint scans from older people, as age can wear out the skin.

”It's sometimes more difficult to get fingerprint scans from older people,” says Vänttinen.

Other segments of the population can also pose a scanning challenge. For example, those who have worked for a long time in heavy manual labour occupations such as bricklaying or construction and professional musicians such as pianists and guitarists may also have well-worn finger pads.

Vänttinen estimates that one in ten applicants provide a challenge in getting fingerprints.

“We usually get them in the end,” she says, adding that during her career she remembers only one case in which it was not possible to take fingerprints.

Owing to the anticipated rush, police recommend starting the renewal process two months before passport expiration.

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