Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control is set to rollout a new International East African passports to replace the current ones.
The exercise that starts in January 2019 is an initiative of the EAC Heads of State to synchronise passports across the region.The e-passport is expected to comply with guidelines set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, making it acceptable around the world.
Kenya is already issuing the latest passports in an exercise that started last year while Tanzania plans to do so in 2020.
Here is all you need to know about the planned e-passport.
Distinct features: The new International EAC e-passport will be a physical passport like the current ones but will be embedded with a secure electronic chip that will contain more details including a bio data page that will have special security features.
The new passport will also have more security features like the Coat of Arms, the Crested Crane, the Mountain Gorilla, the Independence Monument, Murchison Falls and the fishing man.
Phase out East African Passport: The new International East African e-passport will replace and eventually phase out the current East African (Blue) and National Machine readable passports (Black, Red and Green).
Application/Renewal: Applicants for the e-passports will be required to appear in person at the Passport Offices and have their facial and finger prints taken. Ugandans with a valid National Identification card will not need to go to the Local Council for clearance. Those without IDs will be required to register with NIRA prior to applying for the Passport.
Those intending to apply for new passports or to do renewal are encouraged to do so in January 2019 unless there’s an urgent need to travel within the remaining period. Those travelling to Kenya and Rwanda are advised to use their ID, Temporary Movement Permits and Certificates of Identity.
How it works:The new passport will ease clearance at the entry/exit points. It will facilitate use of e-gates for self clearance, automated issuance of Boarding Passes, and quicker processing across airports worldwide where e-passport reader equipment is installed.
Issuing periods: e-passports will be issued for a period of two years from 2019 2021.
Diaspora community –Ugandans in the Diaspora will be able to make applications for the e-passports at seven missions abroad by November 2019.
Fees: The new International East African e-passport shall cost Shs250, 000 for the Ordinary e-Passport category under the normal service standards of seven days. Those who want the Express service that takes two days will be required to pay an extra fee of Shs150, 000. Official passports shall cost Shs400, 000 while Diplomatic Passport shall cost Shs500, 000.
New applicant’s who paid Shs 150,000 and are yet to receive their passports will be required to top up Shs 100,000 for the e-passport. Those who paid through the Express service scheme will get the new e-passport at no additional cost.
How transition is to be managed: In the interest of providing un-interrupted service during the transition, some e-passports will be issued to citizens during the pilot period prior to commissioning the e-Passport System. These e-passports, according to Benon Mutambi, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, will be valid and can be used for travel, but their chips will be inactive.
Those who will be issued with e-passports during the pilot phase will be required to return to immigration headquarters to have their biometric features taken so that their chips are activated. This will be done after January 2019 but not later than January 2021.