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Portugal’s five cards becomes one thanks to Precise Biometrics

Portugal’s five cards becomes one thanks to Precise Biometrics
Portugal is replacing five identity cards with one citizen card. The card contains the card holder’s fingerprint information, and with Precise Match-on-Card technology, the Portuguese government has opened up for a wide usage of their new citizen card in the future.

The challenge 

Portugal has five different identity cards for several different purposes. In addition to the traditional ID card there are different cards for voting, healthcare, paying taxes, and social security. 

The Portuguese authorities want to simplify the use of the citizen cards by replacing all five cards with one card. By adding fingerprint information on the card, the authorities achieve higher security, making sure that a person really is who he or she claims to be, without giving up the citizens’ personal integrity. 

The challenge was to develop a secure smart card solution with fingerprint information, without giving up personal integrity.

How it works 

With the new citizen card, the Portuguese government has opened up the possibility for citizens to identify themselves with fingerprints when using government services.

Precise Match-on-Card technology is used to protect the personal integrity of the citizen since the fingerprint is stored and matched in the card. There is no possible way to extract the fingerprint information from the card in order to recreate it.


The Portuguese citizen card is being rolled out over a 7 year-period starting 2007. In the first phase the cards were rolled out on the Azores with success. The roll out has started in more rural areas, and will move on to more populated areas, finishing with Lissabon and Porto. When fully deployed, the whole population will possess a citizen card.


With the new citizen card, equipped with Precise Match-on-CardTM, the Portuguese government has opened up for fingerprint identification at both government and non-government level. 

In the future, the Portuguese citizens will be able to use their fingerprint for identification not only when being in contact with authorities. 

Since the matching of the fingerprint takes place in the tamperproof environment of the card, not in a central database or a reader, the Precise Match-on-Card technology also makes it possible to extend the card to commercial use, such as stores checking the age of alcohol buyers, or car rental services needing to identify customers

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