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Indian Govt. Set to Launch e-Passport Soon

The Secretary to the Govt. of India in Ministry of External Affairs – Sanjay Bhattacharyya has recently announced that India will soon introduce e-passports & roll them out for its citizens. The announcement was made by Sanjay Bhattacharyya on Twitter last week. He explained that the next generation e-passports will ensure data security of biometric data & facilitate smooth passage of Indian passport holders through immigration posts globally. These new e-passports will be ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) compliant and will be made at India Security Press located in Nashik, Maharashtra.

The Govt. of India had announced that it would introduce e-passports for all citizens a few years ago and current Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar has also said that the government plans to issue e-passports soon. E-passports are already being issued by many countries across the globe – UK & Germany being two of those countries. India has already issued few e-passports to people of high-security status, then President Pratibha Patil was issued the first Indian e-passport in 2008.

The e-passports to be introduced for all citizens will be similar to the current passports in appearance but will come with an additional electronic chip, as seen on drivers’ licenses or credit cards. The microchip embedded in the passport will contain all the details present in print on the passport – name, address, date of birth etc. and it will store key security information like biometric data of the passport holder. This would make it harder for fraudsters who duplicate & create fake passports from real ones. The chip present in the passport will also enable immigration authorities across the globe to verify passport holder details faster and reduce immigration checking times.

At present, for most countries that do not issue e-passports, travellers have to wait in queues and spend hours at immigration counters to complete checks as the officials have to verify each detail on the passport one by one. It is expected that e-passports will help Indian travellers by reducing immigration check time by nearly 50% as the details can be verified digitally via the information stored on the microchip embedded in the e-passport. The biometric data (fingerprints, retinal scan etc,) stored in the chip of the e-passport will also make it easier for immigration authorities to verify travellers’ identity.

While the e-passport will have an additional chip embedded in it, the procedure to apply for a passport will be the same as it is and there are no changes to the application forms as well. The Ministry of External Affairs has said that all 36 of India’s passport offices will issue e-passports and the process followed for issuance of passports will also be the same as it is currently is. The chip embedded in the e-passports will be placed on the front of the e-passport and it will be quite tough to damage/destroy these chips. The new e-passports will come with an internationally recognised logo meant for the e-passports.

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