Use of biometric data of foreign nationals

The government wants to set up a central database of biometric data, such as fingerprints and digital passport photographs, of all foreign nationals who apply for residence or are already residing in the Netherlands. There is already a biometric database for asylum seekers. 

Maintaining a central database would prevent people using another person’s identity or using false documents to obtain permission to reside, work or study in the Netherlands. Fingerprints would be used to reliably match immigrants to their personal identification data and documentation.

Foreign nationals who apply for a residence permit would be required to provide fingerprints and a passport photograph once, after which their identity could be checked against that data using fingerprint scanning and facial comparison. The biometric data would be stored in a central databank and on a chip on the residence permit. This way the information could be used by various public authorities, for example, the Repatriation and Departure Service when expelling illegal immigrants and the Custodial Institutions Agency when incarcerating criminals.

The database would also make it easier for the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), the Aliens Police and Dutch embassies to check the identity of foreign nationals and thus prevent identity fraud. Foreign nationals themselves also stand to benefit, as the use of biometrics could prevent their falling victim to identity theft, which can be a serious problem.

The Minister for Immigration, Integration and Asylum Policy sent his bill amending the Aliens Act 2000 to widen the use of biometric data in the immigration system to the House of Representatives on 5 March 2012.