Communication on an Action Plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details (2016) 790 final (8.12.16)
Publication Date 08/12/2016
Content Type


This Communication sets out an action plan to improve the security of travel documents. Security standards for travel documents and border control requirements are set at EU level, but Member States retain full responsibility for actually producing and issuing travel documents. The action plan sets out measures which the Commission will take and makes recommendations for Member State action under national policies on all aspects of travel document security.

Further information:

The increasingly significant problem of travel document fraud has come under the spotlight in the context of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and current migration flows. Document fraud has become an enabler of terrorism and organised crime, and is linked to the trafficking of human beings and migrant smuggling. It is vital that we enhance the security of travel documents, including the underlying identity management infrastructure.

In its Communication on Enhancing security in a world of mobility: improved information exchange in the fight against terrorism and stronger external borders, the Commission stressed the crucial importance of secure travel and identity documents wherever it is necessary to establish beyond doubt a person’s identity and announced that it would be presenting an action plan to tackle the phenomenon of travel document fraud. An improved approach will rely on robust systems to prevent abuses and the threats to internal security arising from failings in document security.


Most commonly, travel documents take the form of passports, but they also include national identity cards and residence permits for third country nationals (when used within the area without controls at internal borders). EU citizens can enter and leave the EU, the Schengen area and certain non-EU countries with a national ID card issued by Member States. This means, for example, that foreign terrorist fighters may be able to travel between the EU and Turkey using just their national ID card.

EU travel documents are in high demand among fraudsters. At least three quarters of fraudulent documents detected at the external borders, but also in the area without controls at internal borders, purport to have been issued by EU Member States and the Schengen associated countries. According to recent reports from the European Border and Coast Guard, less secure national ID cards issued by Member States are the most frequently detected false documents used for intra-Schengen travel.

‘Lookalike fraud’ (where the holder of a document is simply a look-alike of its real owner) is still on the rise and remained the most frequently reported type of fraud in the second quarter of 2016. Obtaining authentic documents on the basis of false ‘breeder’ documents (birth, marriage and death certificates) remains one of the biggest threats, as it is very difficult to detect.

Against this background, it is crucial that the EU and especially the Member States intensify efforts to improve the security of travel documents issued to EU and third country nationals. Travel document security is an important factor in better border protection and migration management and the move towards an effective and genuine Security Union.

Source Link
Related Links
European Commission: Press Release, 8.12.2016: Security Union: Commission presents Action Plan to strengthen the European response to tackle travel document fraud

Subject Categories
Countries / Regions