Switzerland's Identity Card: A world pioneer
In 1995, Switzerland launched a new generation of national identity cards.
It was, in fact, the worldwide very first identity card made of polycarbonate. Thales developed this significant innovation in close cooperation with the Swiss Government and also provided the design of the card.
The Swiss identity card comprises various built-in optical and physical security features, amongst others, a security element with an optically variable printed image engineered in Switzerland.
The launch of the Swiss identity card in 1995 represented a milestone for the secure document market.
Along with Finland, Singapore, and Sweden, Switzerland proved that polycarbonate is the most suitable material for identity documents with exceptional optical and physical properties.
The card is valid for 10 years and is printed in 4 languages:
Today, polycarbonate has won the trust of governments across the world.
Over 40 countries have chosen it for their national identity or residence permit programs, and close to 30 national passport programs use it. In Europe, all European Union member states made the switch to a polycarbonate credit-card format driving license in 2013.
What's so special about polycarbonate?
What sets it apart from other materials is the non-delaminable property of a full polycarbonate document. When used in pure form, laminated under heat and pressure, and not mixed with other plastics, the different polycarbonate layers that make up the identity document fuse together to form a solid monolithic structure.
And you can hear the difference: the polycarbonate cards are so stiff that they sound like a compact disc when dropped.
So what's the story here?
All security features, including irreversible laser-engraved personalization information, are safely located and protected within the genuine polycarbonate document. This is referred to as the one-block concept described in our September 2016 web dossier on document security design.
Polycarbonate is unique in supporting highly fraud-resistant level-one security features; that are visible to the naked eye.
These features, which are easily authenticated by the relevant authorities, include :
- tactile surface elements,
- changeable or multiple laser images (CLIs or MLIs),
- irreversible laser-engraved personalization
- and now color portraits.
Polycarbonate's durability allows for the production of identity documents with a guaranteed lifespan of ten years. Polycarbonate documents are available without a chip module or with a contact-based, contactless or dual interface.
Recent innovations, such as color laser-printing and enhanced visual and tactile effects, are giving government authorities and national printers additional opportunities to consider this enhanced polycarbonate environment for their document projects seriously.
As pioneers in polycarbonate technology, Gemalto and Trüb have joined forces to offer unparalleled experience and expert knowledge in this area.
Polycarbonate documents from Thales, such as the Swiss identity document, Finnish DL and eID or Swedish ePassport, and the new UK passport, to name a few, are widely recognized to be leading in terms of quality and security.