A Norwegian father who had ordered a passport for his infant son was surprised to find not one but two passports in the family’s mailbox in Stavanger. Both were for other people, while the child’s passport remains missing.
“It’s quite disturbing to know that our son’s passport is out there but we don’t know where,” Daniel Egge Roux told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) during the weekend. The passports that arrived at the family home were for a woman in Bergen and another person in eastern Norway. The woman in Bergen, meanwhile, had received a passport issued to yet another woman who lives in Bærum outside Oslo.
Police fear that even more newly issued passports were simply placed into the wrong envelopes by passport producer Thales, which is already under criticism for lengthy delays in its passport production. There’s been a flood of new passport requests in Norway this spring after Corona travel restrictions were eased. There’s also a backlog of passport renewals plus thousands of new citizens who finally won the right to dual citizenship in 2019 and have also been applying for Norwegian passports.
Norway’s police directorate is responsible for passport issuance and quickly determined that the error occurred at Thales, which did not respond to NRK’s request for comment. “This happens now and then,” Bjørn-Eirik Vandvik of the police directorate told NRK, “but seldom.” It remained unclear how many passports have been sent to the wrong recipients, with all the security concerns that entails.
“There’s clearly a need for a review and better routines for the delivery of passports,” Lars-Henrik Gundersen of Norway’s center for information security (Norsis) told NRK. “It’s serious when a public agency like the police sends personal information to the wrong recipient.” Such information, especially recipients’ personnummer (the equivalent of a US Social Security number), can be used, for example, to open bank accounts, borrow money or register a mobil phone subscription.