CEITEC Receives Certification for e-Passport Chip

By Edson Perin

The Brazilian semiconductor company has received Common Criteria International Safety Certification, enabling to market the product inside and outside the country.


CEITEC‘s CTC21001 radio frequency identification chip, known as the Passport Chip, has received Common Criteria International Safety Certification. This approval is essential for the production and marketing of the product, which can already be inserted in the cover of Brazil’s electronic passport. The achievement guarantees CEITEC, a public semiconductor company linked to Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC), permission to market its product inside and outside the country.

The CTC21001 chip is composed of a microprocessor on which travelers’ information is stored, with embedded software that provides the e-passport’s functionality. Common Criteria certification depends on a rigorous assessment of the adequacy of protection mechanisms against attacks. To achieve this, CEITEC has invested in information security, infrastructure, equipment, software and employee training.

A Brazilian passport containing an RFID chip

Both the product and the production processes were thoroughly inspected and tested by the Brightsight evaluation laboratory, located in the Netherlands. Based on its findings, Norwegian certifying authority SERTIT, one of the entities that oversee safety certification work throughout the world, has issued the approval document.

The electronic passport follows the guidelines defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). CEITEC is one of the few companies in the world capable of producing the chip in according with the international standard. With the chip produced in Brazil, the country will have greater control of the production processes and the useful life of the device, as well as the information security of Brazilian citizens.

CEITEC ‘s Paulo de Tarso Mendes Luna

The chip uses contactless smart-card technology, the same as the contactless credit cards that some banks already issue. It operates at 13.56 MHz, with non-volatile memory to store traveler’s data, as well as symmetric and asymmetric encryption capabilities for information protection, following the standard established by ICAO for electronic passports.

The software that implements these features on the chip was also developed by CEITEC. The embedded chip and software suite have jointly achieved the international Common Criteria security certification.

This achievement guarantees that CEITEC will supply the product to the international market. “Today, our target customer for this specific chip is the Brazilian Mint (CMB), responsible for the production of passports in the country,” says Paulo de Tarso Mendes Luna, CEITEC’s CEO. “From the adoption of this chip in the Brazilian passport, we intend, together with CMB, to seek to explore the feasibility of offering it in the international market—especially in South America.”

Brazilian passports are produced and customized by CMB. The release of passports with the CEITEC chip will depend on negotiations with CMB and other governing bodies also related to passports, such as the Federal Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Our expectation,” de Tarso Mendes Luna says, “is that we will be able to implant the chip in the Brazilian passport later this year.”

Currently, the Brazilian e-passport uses chips from other suppliers, but CEITEC does not have information regarding which ones will be chosen, nor about the embedded software. “It is known, however, that they are international suppliers,” de Tarso Mendes Luna states.