Outstanding Design and Innovation in Banknotes and ID Documents in Latin America and the Caribbean

05 June 2024

The prestigious Regional Banknote and ID Document of the Year Awards form part of the industry’s High Security Printing (HSP) Latin America conference. This year’s event was held in Santiago, Chile, with the awards presented at a special ceremony during the conference dinner on 4 June, which was held at the Viña Santa Carolina winery.

Banknote Awards

The regional Banknote of the Year Award recognises outstanding achievement in the design, technical sophistication and security of a banknote or banknote series, with emphasis placed on reflecting the cultural heritage of the issuing country in the note, and the relevance of the overall design and symbolism.

Awards were made in three categories for this year’s Banknote awards – Best New Banknote, Best New Series and Best New Commemorative Banknote – with Suriname, Peru and the Eastern Caribbean islands all receiving recognition. A special award was also made for a house note that was introduced at the conference by Casa de Moneda de Chile.

Best New Banknote

The Central Bank of Suriname (CBvS) picked up the award for the Best New Banknote for the two new high denomination notes – the 200 and 500 Suriname dollars (SRD) – issued earlier this year.

Exceptional security was a priority for the two notes. In addition, given Suriname’s forestry and agriculture basis, CBvS was attracted to a more environmentally friendly and durable substrate which could at the same time provide state-of-the-art security features.

CBvS had already experienced the durability of composites through the adoption of Hybrid ADDvance® for the SRD 5 and 10 notes. The choice of the Green Banknote from Louisenthal was, therefore, a logical next step. The mix of organic cotton and certified cellulose are reported to reduce carbon emissions by 63% compared to fibres made from conventionally grown cotton. Additionally, the carrier film for the key security features – RollingStar i+ security thread and varifeye™ ColourChange security patch – comes from a certified recycling circuit with 70% recycled polyester.

The SRD 200 features the Sandbox tree, the fruits of which appear in the Rollingstar® LEAD Pure stripe – visible on both sides of the note through a laser cut transparent window. The back of the note features a Rollingstar i+ thread with Cube design.
The SRD 500 features the Buriti palm, which has a popular fruit with edible seeds. Through the varifeye ColourChange Patch, the fruit changes colour. The back of the note also features a Rollingstar i+ thread with Cube design.

Best New Series

The winner of the Best New Series was the Banco Central de Reserva del Peru, which recently completed the introduction of Peru’s family of new notes with the 200 soles. The first notes in the series – the 10 and 100 soles – were put into circulation in mid-2021, followed a year later by the 20 and 50 soles and concluding with the 200 soles last December.  

The new series was designed by De La Rue and is dedicated to Peruvian 20th century figures in the arts, literature, history and science, with indigenous fauna and flora on the reverse. For the first time, the reverse side of the notes have a vertical orientation. Both notes also include tactile marks to help the blind identify the note’s denomination.

All notes feature SICPA’s SPARK® Live, De La Rue’s GEMINI™, which splits into two colours under UV light, and rainbow fibres in four colours. The 10, 20 and 100 soles notes feature a 4mm wide RollingStar® security thread from Louisenthal and the 50 and 200 soles notes a RAPID® Detect thread from Crane.

This was the first wholesale redesign of Peru’s currency since 1991 and was a collective effort between suppliers – De La Rue for the design, different printers for the individual denominations, along with the two suppliers of the security threads.

Best New Commemorative Banknote

This award went to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) for its commemorative $2 note, issued to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Designed and produced by De La Rue in close collaboration on SAFEGUARD® polymer, the front of multi-colour  yellow, red, blue, and purple note features legendary cricket star Sir Viv Richards, also known affectionately as ‘The Master Blaster’ in a set of islands that is passionate about cricket, as well as the 40th anniversary bank logo, turtles, and fish. The back of the vertically designed note combines fish, coral, turtles and a map of the islands in contrasting bright blue.

The banknote’s visual impact is enhanced  by features including the first appearance  of an aqua-blue tinted holographic foil,  turtle imagery, along with the silver of  the Argentum and vibrant colours of  the ILLUMINATE™ feature within the  note’s window.

The note is legal tender and can be used for transactions throughout the eight member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union.

With this award, the ECCB has scored a hat trick – having already won the International Bank Note Society (IBNS) Banknote of the Year 2023 award by an overwhelming majority in mid-May and, just two days later, the commemorative banknote category in the IACA Excellence in Currency Awards.

Chile’s New House Note

The HSP Best House Note Award is a global rather than regional award and is presented at sister event HSP EMEA.  But such is the quality of and innovation in Casa de Moneda de Chile’s newly released 281 house note that a special award was made.

The name of the house note (281) is the age of CdM, which was founded in 1743. It is CdM’s second house note on polymer and was a joint collaboration with CCL Secure, with the themes of geography and marine life utilised to demonstrate some of the latest security features possible on GUARDIAN™ substrate.

The vertically-oriented front features the sea bed, waves and a black dolphin (native to Chile). The horizontally-oriented reverse features the Osorno volcano in southern Chile reflected in Lake Llanquihue.  Artificial intelligence was used to support the design process, enabling ultra realistic images and dynamic effects.

The note includes several features specific to GUARDIAN, including – for the first time – VIVID Reveal™ in the window which appears as a grey rock and seaweed in normal light, but displays brilliant colours under UV light.

ID and Passport Awards

Best New Passport – Joint

The travel document industry has raised its game once again to address the dual threats from physical and digital attacks. Add to that the increasing citizen demand for convenience and aesthetics and it’s no surprise that the quality of entries has been incredibly high for best new passport. So high, in fact, that the judges have made a joint award.

Honduras ePassport

The National Institute of Migration (INM) has revealed the new Honduran electronic passport, a significant step forward in the nation’s efforts to modernise its infrastructure. This cutting-edge passport incorporates over 65 security measures, ensuring heightened protection and compliance with international standards set by ICAO.

One of the most notable features is the embedded chip, which enhances security by storing biometric data that is essential for verifying the identity of the passport holder. This technology aligns with global trends in secure travel documentation, providing Honduran citizens with a passport that is recognised and respected worldwide.

The introduction of the electronic passport not only enhances security but also reflects Honduras’ rich history and commitment to social equality and cultural inclusion. The passport’s design celebrates the nation’s heritage, incorporating elements that highlight its diverse cultural landscape.

In addition to bolstering security and celebrating cultural identity, the new passport aims to improve services for Honduran citizens. The INM is upgrading its facilities and expanding online support, making the process of obtaining and renewing passports more efficient and user-friendly. These improvements are expected to streamline administrative processes and reduce waiting times, offering a more convenient experience for all passport applicants.

Canadian ePassport ‘B’ Series

As there is no separate HSP conference or awards programme for North America, the award to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada  for the new ‘B’ Series Canadian ePassport was presented alongside the HSP Latin America awards.  

The B Series represents the culmination of 10 years of research and development, with a design and development process that spanned the challenging period from 2019 to 2023.

The underlying theme of the new series is ‘The Four Seasons of Canada’. It’s modern and contemporary styling showcases how Canadians interact with the diverse seasons across its vast nation.

Starting with the ePassport’s cover, the distinctive maple leaf – the iconic symbol of Canada – is embossed on the front and rear and marks a major departure from all previous generations of documents. The inside cover leverages various printing technologies and sets the stage for the seasonal styling. Four unique and complex colour palettes, each representing a season, are divided across the interior visa pages; each season is printed onto custom watermark paper which also features seasonal icons (sun, flower, snowflake and leaf). The polycarbonate datapage (a first for Canadian passports) incorporates artistic design elements within the physical properties of the data page such as complex window shapes.

The document demonstrates what can be accomplished when the fundamentals of security printing are leveraged to their maximum.

Best New ID Card – Joint

A similar story of high quality nominations making it impossible to decide between the top two entrants was also true for the Best New ID Card category.

Panama ID Card

The Electoral Tribunal and the National Registry Directorate, along with Mühlbauer ID Services, won the joint award for the Best New ID Card for the Panamanian identity card. This is a new generation of the document, which includes the modernisation of the physical card, containing enhanced security measures that are visible in natural and UV illumination.

As part of the issuing procedure,  biometric validation mechanisms establish a unique identity for each person, delivering a document that enables identification for authorities, institutions and third parties. All this in accordance with the rights and guarantees of the citizen established in the Constitution of the Republic of Panama.

The polycarbonate identity document is personalised by laser engraving of the portrait of the document holder, protecting the image from alteration and falsification.

Brazil ID Card 

The award to Brazil’s Digital Government Secretariat / Ministry of Management and Innovation in Public Services was for the Brazilian Identity Card (CIN). This, along with the National Civil Identification Service were established by legal decree in November 2023. The main objective was the modernisation of the current system of federal states, which operate civil registration and birth and death certificates, building a social civil identification platform.

Among the innovations incorporated in the CIN is the inclusion of a QR code, which presents the option of easy and reliable checking by public and private service units, in addition to the inclusion of a specific area for the MRZ, with the opportunity to use it as a travel document, as long as there is an agreement between countries.

The CIN can be issued in physical format, on paper or polycarbonate, and digitally through the federal GOV.BR application process. By March 2024, more than 4 million new CINs had been issued in 24 federal states. The national goal is to issue more than 24 million CINs by the end of this year.

Best ID Project

Peruvian Foreigners’ Card

The National Superintendent of Migration and IN Groupe received their award for the Peruvian Foreigners Card. With support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the new card is a modern, avant-garde and secure document: it has many security features that did not exist in the previous version of the document.

Today, the new Peruvian ID card has a completely different vision from the aesthetic and IT point of view. With the integration of a chip in the document, it is possible to store the holder’s biographical and biometric data, making it much more secure and more resistant to fraud.

Best New ID and Travel Document Series

Paraguay eID and ePassport

The new Paraguayan electronic ID card (eID), commissioned by the Paraguay Ministry of Interior and developed by Thales, exemplifies cutting-edge security and technological innovation. Designed to last a minimum of 10 years, the card offers Paraguayan citizens superior features and security.

The card is constructed entirely from polycarbonate, with sheets fused under heat and pressure to create a robust, monobloc structure. Featuring both contact and contactless interfaces, the chip supports various applications including digital signatures, Match On Card, and ICAO’s logical data structure (LDS).

The project also incorporates an instant issuance system operational at seven different sites nationwide, enabling citizens to obtain their new eID within just 60 minutes of request.

This innovative eID integrates secure and attractive features that enhance verifiability, conveying a sense of national pride. It supports modern public and private eServices, facilitating the growth of the digital economy. The eID is fully compliant with relevant standards and regulations, ensuring seamless integration across borders.

The new Paraguayan electronic passport (ePassport), also developed by Thales, represents a new standard for secure travel documentation. The ePassport offers advanced functionalities and security for Paraguayan citizens and is available in two separate formats: 32-page Ordinary Passport and 12-page Refugee Passport.

The ePassport mitigates identity theft through biometric verification, ensuring the uniqueness of each applicant. Its advanced security features facilitate reliable visual inspections, making forgery exceedingly difficult. The ePassport includes secure embedded software and a polycarbonate data page, enhancing the overall security profile of the document.

The internal cover and visa pages incorporate sophisticated security elements, including intricate

patterns and embossing effects with line width modulation, two-colour rainbow printing with UV features to enhance document security, microtext and intaglio printing to add layers of complexity and tactility. The visa pages feature national symbols and intricate designs, promoting Paraguayan heritage while ensuring security.

The combination of secure embedded software and physical design elements results in a highly secure and attractive travel document.

The next HSP Latin America event will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil in June 2025.  Before then will be HSP Asia, which takes place in Bangkok, Thailand from 2-4 December 2024. Nominations are now invited for the HSP Regional Banknote and ID awards for the Asia region.