Finland may not be the first EU state after all to introduce the new passport model containing biometric identification features.
According to the original plan, the issuing of the new type of passports was supposed to start already this spring. A Market Court hearing related to the matter, however, has held up this intention.
Finnish passport manufacturer Setec has taken the case to court after the production of the passports was assigned to its Swedish and Dutch competitors XponCard and SDU.
According to Setec neither XponCard nor SDU's bids complied with the rules of the original invitation for tenders.
The Market Court is soon expected to deliver its ruling on the case.
Setec sales manager Tommi Nordberg believes the Finns will not get their biometric passports before the turn of the year. Still, Finland will be among the first European countries to introduce the new passports.
Project manager Tommi Rakshit from the Ministry of the Interior also believes that the issuing of the new passports with biometric identification will be delayed. While waiting for the Market Court ruling the Ministry has also been forced to rethink its financing for the project.
The passport reform comes at the insistence of the United States. The US wants all passports issued after October 26th this year by countries whose citizens can travel stateside without a visa to have a bio-ID of some kind.
Those with non-biometric passports issued after that date will have to get a separate US visa to travel to the USA.
Those travelling with passports issued before the deadline will be allowed to travel to the United States as long as the passport is valid.
On Wednesday the EU Commission announced that it had asked the United States for a deferment until August next year before the introduction of the bio-ID passports.
The United States is yet to respond to this request.
In the first instance, the new passports would be equipped with a microchip containing a photograph of the bearer's face stored in electronic form.
Later on, fingerprint information will be added in the chip.
The new passports are expected to cost around EUR 10 more than the existing ones.