Coming in 2018: One Passport for all of East Africa
Assuming you’re yet to hear, East Africa will be issuing a single machine-readable electronic-passport to each citizen of the East Africa bloc – comprising the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania – beginning January 31, 2018 and this e-passport will replace all national passports. The issuance of this East African Community (EAC) international e-passport falls alongside the issuance of the African passport by the African Union. So if all goes well, East Africans should receive a regional passport and a continental passport at the same time. Sweet!
The phase-out of the current passport will occur between January 2017 and December 2018 and the new passport promises to be “duplicate-proof” in order to ward off forgers. Burundi completed the process of procuring passport booklets earlier this year and was ready to begin issuing the new books starting April 3 while Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda were also ready to begin issuing the e-passports no later than April. Tanzania is expected to be ready to issue e-passports come January 1, 2018.
The EAC e-Passport will have three categories – diplomatic, service and ordinary. The ordinary passport will be valid for up to 10years while the diplomatic and service passports will be valid according to the holder’s specific term of service. The international e-Passport will have a chip to hold the traveler’s basic information – name, date of birth and other biographic information -, while containing a biometric identifier, a digital photograph of the holder as well as security features designed to prevent unauthorised reading or “scanning” of stored data.