Her Majesty’s Passport Office is currently procuring services to design, manufacture and personalise UK passports from summer 2019, when the current contract ends. HM Passport Office has undertaken a rigorous, fair and open competition in accordance with UK law, and in line with EU and World Trade Organisation rules. This process began in March 2017, at which point HM Passport Office clearly set out the requirements under which potential suppliers should table their bids.
The security of the passport and passport holders’ personal data is paramount, and the tender requirements clearly set out the high standard of security that must be met to undertake the contract. For example, under the next contract, all passports will continue to be personalised with the holder’s personal details in the United Kingdom, which ensures that no personal data will leave the UK. However, the printing of blank passports in the UK is not a new requirement. Robust processes that have been established over a number of years have determined that manufacturing passports overseas presents no security concerns. Under the current contract, up to 20% of blank passports are produced in Europe. There is no reason why overseas production should not continue in the future and, as such, a national security waiver could not apply.
While there are no security or operational impediments to outsourcing the production of passports, there are significant benefits in terms of both value for money, and production innovation and development. This procurement has identified the supplier that best meets the needs of our passport service—keeping the UK passport at the forefront of travel document security, while offering the best value for money. I am unable to confirm any details of the bids while the process remains subject to commercial and legal sensitivities. However, a public announcement to confirm the winning bidder will be made once the contract is formally awarded.