Children younger than 12 should no longer have their fingerprints included on passports issued in the European Union, the European Parliament decided on January 14 2009, the EP website said.
A co-decision report adopted by the EP with 594 votes in favour, 51 against and 37 abstentions, said that children should have their own passports so as to combat trafficking in children.
Biometric passports will be introduced in the whole EU (+ Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) on June 29 2009 and all member states have until 2012 to implement the rules. Current passports will remain valid for travel except to certain countries.
To combat trafficking in children, the draft legislation also proposes introducing the principle "one person, one passport".
Until now, a passport issued to a parent has often also covered the children by adding their names - but the microchip contains only the parent's biometric data.
The regulation does not provide a legal basis for setting up or maintaining databases for storage of these data in member states.
The European Parliament adopted plans to amend a 2004 regulation laying down biometric features to be included in passports and other travel documents, including the holder's fingerprints.
It adopted a compromise position agreed with the European Council last year.
The UK is excluded from participation in this regulation as it is a development of the Schengen acquis in which the UK does not take part.
However, the UK government supports the inclusion of fingerprints in passports and travel documents as a means of providing better identification.
The UK has stated its intention to keep in step with the regulation to ensure that UK passports are not seen as "second class" compared with those issued by other member states.
Germany started collecting fingerprints in March 2007. The Netherlands has been testing the procedure since 2004. In France, inclusion of fingerprints has been available on request since April 2006.