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Action Plan to tackle travel document fraud

09 December 2016
by eub2 -- last modified 09 December 2016

The European Commission adopted on December 8 an Action Plan setting out concrete measures to improve the security of travel documents. The Action Plan provides clear recommendations for EU Member States to tackle the phenomenon of travel document fraud and outlines a comprehensive set of actions for the Commission to take. Travel document security is an important factor in the fight against terrorism and organised crime and contributes to improving border protection and migration management, paving a way towards an effective and genuine Security Union.


The Action Plan is targeted at travel documents issued by EU Member States to EU citizens and third-country nationals which are used for identification and border crossing. Member States retain full responsibility for issuing the documents which are used to establish the identity of a person (so called breeder documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates) before issuing travel documents as well as the actual production and issuance of travel documents. However, security standards for travel documents issued by Member States as well as border control requirements are set at EU level. Today's Action Plan addresses all aspects of travel document security and aims at closing potential loopholes, in close cooperation between Member States and with the support of the Commission and EU agencies.

In full respect of fundamental rights and data protection rules and division of competences between Member States and the Commission, the Action Plan outlines measures in four key areas:

  • Registration of identity: With the support of the Commission, Member States should consider how best to avoid issuing authentic documents based on false identities, examine how 'breeder' documents can be made more fraud-resistant and promote the use of the Europol handbook on breeder documents.
  • Issuance of documents: Member States should improve the exchange of information on best practices regarding biometrics enrolment and document issuance procedures and strengthen the monitoring of the issuance of identity and travel documents to prevent theft of blank documents. The Commission will facilitate the exchange of best practices through workshops in 2017.
  • Document production: The Action Plan calls on the European Parliament and the Council to adopt as soon as possible the proposals on a more secure uniform format for visas and residence permits for third country nationals to avoid further fraud. The Commission will finalise a study on EU policy options to improve the security of EU citizens' ID cards and residence documents against fraud and forgery risks in view of a possible legislative initiative by the end of 2017 and monitor the conformity of security features.
  • Document control: Member States should systematically register all stolen, lost, misappropriated or invalidated documents in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and Interpol's Stolen and Lost Travel Document database, ensure better access to relevant systems for border guards and accelerate the implementation of the 'fingerprint search' functionality in the SIS. The High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability is looking at how interoperability could contribute to improved document and identity checks. The Group will present its findings by mid-2017. In December 2016, the Commission will revise the legal basis of the SIS to enhance the functionalities of the system and it will implement the ‘fingerprint search' functionality at central level in the Schengen Information System in 2017. The Commission will also work together with Member States and EU Agencies to boost training activities in new areas of document fraud.

The Commission will assess the progress made on the implementation of the Action Plan and will report to the European Parliament and the Council by the end of the first quarter of 2018 on the progress achieved.

Action plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud