Removal of details through scratching/scraping away at the surface of the paper. back to top

Bio-data page

The bio-data page, or biographical details page, is the page within a passport which contains the holder’s photograph/image and personal details. back to top

Biographical details page

See ‘bio-data page’ back to top

Black print

The pre-printed text (banner headings and titles) usually printed at time of manufacture. Not to be confused with in-fill which is printed at time of issue. back to top


A complete reproduction of a genuine document from scratch. No element of a counterfeit document is genuine. back to top

Digital image

The image of the holder either printed directly on the bio-data page or onto the underside of a laminate. Superseded conventional photographs. back to top

Dry embossing seal

Impression in relief made by means of a seal or stamp, e.g. for authentication of a document or a photograph of the holder. back to top


Extra Small Print (q.v.) back to top

Extra Small Print

Extra Small Print or ESP is very small text which is not legible to the naked eye. Printed lines in documents are often comprised of such text. ESP can be incorporated within both the background design and the black print in a document. back to top

Fantasy document

A fantasy document or ‘spurious document’ has the appearance of an official document, but is not issued by a legally recognised, existing authority or institution of a state or organisation recognised under international law, and so has no legal validity. back to top


Light emitted by material (paper) or ink when exposed to a high-energy light source (e.g. ultra violet). back to top

Forged document

A genuine document that has been unlawfully falsified or altered in some way. back to top

Half tone printing

A printing technique that simulates continuous tone imagery through the use of dots, varying either in size or in spacing. Often used by forgers to simulate rainbow printing and the subtle colour merging used in background designs.

Lighter areas are reproduced using dots in a lower intensity (fewer, smaller or further apart), while darker areas are represented by a higher intensity of dots (more, larger or closer together).

back to top


A three-dimensional optically variable device used as a security feature. Holograms feature 3D movement and colour shift and can contain other features such as images and Extra Small Print.

A Kinegram™ is a two-dimensional computer generated optically variable device. These can also contain movement and colour shift (to a lesser extent than holograms) and features such as images and Extra Small Print.

back to top


The simplest type of document fraud, the impostor is simply a look-alike for the real passport holder. Usually no alteration is necessary. back to top


The holder’s printed (sometimes hand-written) personal details, completed at time of issue. Not to be confused with the black print (pre-printed text). back to top

Inkjet printing

A low cost commercially available printing technique, which should not be used to complete the background of security documents. When magnified, the print can be seen to break down into random colour dots (usually four colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black).

Other commercial printing techniques include laser printing, four colour offset printing and thermal transfer/dye sublimation printing.

back to top

Intaglio print

Comprised of very thick ink which stands raised from the page and feels rough to the touch. Usually found on the endpapers (inside covers) of a document, used to complete the intricate fine line designs and motifs. Because of the properties of intaglio, security printers are able to include a latent image (hidden image) within intaglio designs. back to top


A Kinegram™ is a two-dimensional computer generated optically variable device (see ‘hologram’). back to top

Laser cuts

Using laser technology, laser cuts or laser perforations of different types and sizes can be used to create images, designs and document serial numbers. back to top

Laser engraving

Not to be confused with ‘laser printing’! Used for producing images and personal details on polycarbonate pages, using a laser to burn through the layers of polycarbonate onto a carbonising layer beneath. The result is smooth, almost photographic, details in a charcoal (grey/brown) colour. back to top

Latent image

A hidden image within intaglio (q.v.) designs. back to top

Needle printing

The document serial number mechanically perforated through the pages of a document. Often superseded nowadays by laser perforated numbers which are laser burned through the pages (see ‘laser cuts’). back to top

Oblique light

Light shone across the page from the side. Using this light source can often pick up shadows, creases and any damage to the page. back to top

Optically variable ink

Metallic looking ink designed to change colour when viewed at different angles. Always ensure you have a definite colour shift (e.g. from gold to green) and not just a shift in shade. back to top

Polycarbonate pages

Pages comprising layers of polycarbonate (a plastic material). Often different security features can be incorporated into the different layers. Some documents can also contain part paper, part polycarbonate pages. back to top

Rainbow print

The subtle merging of one colour into the next. Often used for background designs. At no point should you be able to see where one colour ends and the next begins. back to top


Safeguards or ‘security features’ (visible and covert) are features designed to prevent copying and alteration. Covert safeguards are visible when viewed under different light sources (e.g. ultraviolet). back to top

Secure paper stock

Secure documents are made from specially made secure paper. The paper is not treated with the same optical brighteners and chemicals as cheaper commercially available paper and should not fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light as cheaper paper often does. back to top

Security feature

See ‘safeguard’. back to top

Spurious document

See ‘fantasy document’. back to top

Stolen blank

A genuine blank document that has been stolen somewhere between the manufacturing stage and issuance. As the document is genuine it will contain all of the security features expected. However, as it will not have been issued by the competent authorities, it may contain an incorrect typeface, an incorrect layout and/or typographical errors. There may also be some damage to the booklet as the forger may have had to dismantle the booklet in order to print the personal details. back to top

Striation marks

A series of crease marks on a page or laminate, often a sign of splitting a page or lifting a laminate. Best viewed using an oblique light source. back to top

Supporting document

Any document which can be used as further evidence of identity, status or address e.g. other identity documents, bank statements and utilities bills. These are also susceptible to forgery and counterfeiting. back to top

Transmitted light

Light shone through the page from behind. Watermarks for example are best viewed by holding the page up to the light or shining a light source through the page. back to top


The grafting of a piece of paper or material with new details onto the page. back to top

Ultra violet light

Ultra violet light (or ‘UV light’) is not visible to the naked eye, but it can be observed indirectly by the way it makes many substances fluoresce, producing a slight violet glow. Inks can incorporate UV reactive properties which when subjected to a UV light source display a reaction. back to top


See ‘ultra violet light’. back to top


Thicker and thinner areas of paper. When the page is held up to the light, the thinner areas let more light through and appear brighter. In the same way the thicker areas let through less light and appear darker. back to top

Wet ink seal

A stamp using wet ink to endorse a passport or document. back to top