Home Office prepares for passport ad pitch

The Home Office is preparing to appoint an agency to advertise changes to passport rules.

The department is working with Naked Communications and COI to develop a marketing strategy. This is expected to include TV advertising and will explain changes to passport rules, as well as aim to alleviate concerns over the introduction of ID cards.

From the end of this year, people applying for their first passport will have to undergo a face-to-face interview with a passport officer at one of 69 agencies across the UK.

And from September, every new passport issued will contain biometric data held in a digital chip. This will include information such as the owner's precise facial measurements. From 2008, iris scans and fingerprint details could also be introduced.

The UK Passport Service and the newly formed Identity and Passport Service is also likely to hold a pitch to find an agency for below-the-line marketing support.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed that it is working with Naked and COI.

"We are still working on exactly what we can do and how to target people," he said.

The new legislation will mean that 16-year-old passport applicants who were previously on their parents' passports will have to undergo an official interview.

Government figures put the total cost of switching from standard to biometric passports at about £60 million.

The changes to the UK passport rules are part of government measures to clamp down on identity fraud and respond to fears of increased terrorist action.