Traveling abroad with a digital passport in “Diya” – did it happen, how did it really happen and what happened to the international recognition of the application?

by alex

Is it possible to cross the Ukrainian border with a digital passport in the Diya application? Over the last 24 hours, quite a lot of conflicting information has appeared, so we decided to take a closer look at the situation.

Where did it all start?

A number of media outlets picked up and disseminated reports that border guards no longer accept e-documents in the “Diya” application for crossing the border, since cases of forgery of the application and fake documents in it have become more frequent – the Covid 2021 vibe with the development of fake copies of “Diya” and counterfeit vaccination certificates. The relevant news is being disseminated with reference to the words of the representative of the State Border Service of Ukraine Igor Matviychuk during an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

Direct speech by Igor Matviychuk

— Is it possible to cross the border using documents in the Diya application?

– But not according to your passport in “Diya”. The passport must be physically present. However, we can accept documents at Dii that, for example, confirm that a person has a disability. A passport in “Diya” can only be used for personal identification, but not for crossing the border, in particular due to some nuances of, let’s say, the software product.

We had facts of attempts to show documents in pseudo-copies of Dii. The man claimed that he was the father of many children, shows us three certificates in the appendix. And upon closer inspection, it turned out that he was trying to deceive border guards by showing false certificates in a fake application.

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Obviously, we are talking about fake copies of “Dii”, similar to those created during the COVID-19 pandemic and strict quarantine restrictions. To date, there is no convincing evidence of vulnerability or the fact that the official Diya application has been hacked.

Reaction of the State Tax Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Digital Development

The official reaction to these messages was not long in coming – the State Tax Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Digital Development immediately issued corresponding statements, reminding forgetful Ukrainians that e-passports in the “Diya” application do not give the right to leave or enter Ukraine.

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According to the requirements of current legislation, an e-passport and an e-passport for traveling abroad are not documents that give a citizen of Ukraine the right to leave Ukraine and enter Ukraine. To cross the border, a valid international passport is required (extension of the validity of a passport of a citizen of Ukraine for traveling abroad under martial law).

E-passports can help border guards perform additional personal identification. Border guards can accept documents at “Dii” – for example, confirming disability or others necessary to allow certain categories of citizens to cross the border. But if inspectors of the State Border Service of Ukraine have doubts about the validity of the documents in “Dii” and the authenticity of the mobile application itself, an additional check may be carried out.

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Status of digital documents in the Diya application

On August 23, 2021, the all-changing law on “passports in smartphones” came into force—equating e-passports in the Diya application to plastic and paper counterparts. It enshrined at the (highest) legislative level the definition of digital passports (foreign and domestic) and endowed them with identical legal force, with the exception of a number of points, such as traveling abroad. Indeed, from the very beginning, crossing the border with a digital passport in “Diya” was not intended for obvious reasons – other countries only recognize a physical, legal passport. And this is not surprising. The Diya website has a separate page with comprehensive instructions on how to use an electronic passport and answers to the most common questions.

Выезд за границу с цифровым паспортом в «Дія» — было ли, как на самом деле и что с международным признанием приложения?

Wartime Features

The invasion changed everything and at the beginning, when everyone came to their senses and accepted the new reality, certain informal mitigations were in effect – for example, thanks to agreements with neighboring countries, border guards allowed border crossings using passports in “Diya” and old internal passport-books. Here is the official explanation of the State Tax Service in force at that time. And the Ministry of Internal Affairs mentioned Moldova and Poland among the countries for which a simplified regime for crossing the border was in force using documents in “Dii”. However, each request was considered on a personal basis, and these mitigations did not apply to conscripts, military personnel and reservists, who are prohibited from leaving Ukraine during the period of martial law.

Is it ever possible to use a passport in Dii to travel abroad?

In the spring of 2022, it was reported that Poland, Moldova and several other countries were preparing to recognize digital documents in Dii. It is also appropriate to mention here the Estonian state application mRiik based on Diya and plans to export the flagship product of the Ministry of Digital Development abroad. Since then, there has been no news regarding further progress in the direction.

Probably, the international recognition of the “Diya” application is still one of the priorities of the Ministry of Digital Development – last year, the main documents (passport, driver’s license and vehicle registration certificate) received translation into English – this is necessary for digital documents in “Diya” » recognized by other EU countries. The very desired digital visa-free visa with the EU, which will significantly facilitate access to services in Europe. Therefore, answering the question above, as soon as this becomes possible and certain conditions appear, immediately.

  • “Diya” is a Ukrainian electronic public services service, available on smartphones and the web. On the portal you can get 100+ government services online, and in the mobile application, which is used by about 20 million Ukrainians, you can access 14 digital documents and 28 services. The project achieved this result in three years – the application was first presented in 2019, and the official launch took place in 2020.

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