Passport SAC Liechtenstein

Maria ZachNews

Implementation of the new safety standard SAC for electronic passports in Liechtenstein. 

End of August 2014, the successful change to the new safety standard SAC for electronic passports took place in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

SAC (Supplemental Access Control) expands the existing safety standard BAC (Basic Access Control) to PACE v2 (Password Authenticated Connection Establishment). The electronic access to the chip is changed from a symmetric to the much safer, asymmetric encryption. In addition a six-digits CAN (Card Access Number) is printed on the passport in Liechtenstein. Due to the nature of asymmetric encryption, the access to the chip is – notwithstanding the short access number – now better protected than with the conventional, symmetric encryption.

Klaus Astner, technical project manager at OeSD, explains:

“In Liechtenstein, the access to the electronic data in the chip of the passports can be carried out in all three methods allowed by ICAO:

  • Access with BAC, after reading the MRZ (Machine Readable Zone), for conventional passport readers
  • Access with SAC, after reading the MRZ, for new readers
  • Access with SAC after reading the six-digits CAN. The CAN facilitates the manual input substantially comparted to the MRZ (document number, date of birth, expiry date). In the future the use of mobile passport readers will be done in this way.

Although Liechtenstein, a small country with 35,000 inhabitants in the heart of Europe, is not a member of the European Union, it decided to offer its citizens the safety standard already now, which are mandatory in the EU from the end of 2014.

“We are proud that Liechtenstein is our first customer who has switched to SAC, and has thus increased the safety of their passports before the deadline. Currently the citizens of Liechtenstein have the most modern passports”, says Claudia Schwendimann, CEO of OeSD International GmbH and project manager.