LJUBLJANA, Slovenia_Slovenia on Monday began issuing biometric passports with a new security chip containing facial images, heeding a European Union deadline.
Member states have until the end of August to introduce the chips with facial scans to their passports.
The passports should also include fingerprints by 2009.
The biometric features, which reduce patterns of fingerprints, faces and irises to mathematical algorithms to be stored on a chip, go beyond security standards demanded by the United States.
EU nations participating in the U.S. visa-waiver program were given until October this year to comply with U.S. standards to have either a digital photo or a chip containing biometric data in their passports if they wanted to continue visa-free travel to the U.S.
The new, secure passports are largely part of anti-terror measures passed after the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.