How to securely destroy an invalidated passport?

Reader Chow Mun Zing wanted to know if there is a secure way of disposing of expired Singapore passports.

He said that at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), an officer will punch holes on the cover of the old passport and return it to the applicant after a new one is issued. This invalidates the old passport. But it has the applicant's photo and other personal information.

He asked: "Is there an organisation that can destroy invalidated passports securely?"

Reporter Seow Bei Yi has the answer.

ICA says that as the Singapore passport is an important document, it should be disposed of carefully.

A good way to dispose of an expired or invalidated passport is by shredding it. This will ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands, which may lead to abuse.

A good way to dispose of an expired or invalidated passport is by shredding it, so it does not fall into the wrong hands. ST FILE PHOTO

The disposal can be done on your own, or through an information security company such as Shred-it.

Besides providing shredding services for other companies, Shred-it caters to private individuals who wish to dispose of their confidential documents by driving to the clients' premises with a mobile shredder.

There is a minimum charge for a one-time service, and the cost is about $100.

If you take the documents to Shred-it's offices, it could cost about $80.

After the process, the individual will receive a certificate of destruction that they can keep as a record.

When asked, an ICA spokesman said that in disposing of biometric passports, the electronic chip should be destroyed by using a hole puncher to punch a hole through it, before shredding the passport.

Singapore introduced biometric passports in 2006.

Part of a global effort to make travel documents tougher to forge, such passports contain a tiny computer chip that identifies the holder through unique physical characteristics - known as biometric identifiers - such as facial features and fingerprints. The data is encoded onto the chip when an applicant picks up his passport.

Among the biometric passport's security features are watermarks, images that show up under ultraviolet light, and microtext - or words printed in a font so tiny that they appear as a straight line to the naked eye.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'How to securely destroy an invalidated passport?'. Print Edition | Subscribe