IN order to improve the process of applying for passports Region the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration has upgraded its system in the Erongo to accommodate the transfer of biometric and other information to its head office via computer.
The Executive Director of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Etienne Maritz launched the pilot programme for the passport data transfer system at its regional offices in Swakopmund.
During then launch Maritz explained that with this process, members of the public will no longer have to bring their own passport photos when applying. Instead, they will be able to have their photos taken and their other biometric information such as fingerprints captured at the premises.
“The additional biometric information will be stored in a chip embedded in the new passports that the ministry has been issuing since the beginning of last year. The information stored on the chip improves security features of the modern travel documents,” he said.
In January 2018 Namibia joined other countries in issuing e-travel documents which are highly secure. The chip on which the information is stored is designed to provide the maximum protection of documents and identities.
“The new e-passport part includes ordinary, diplomatic and official passports, which will run concurrently with the older machine-readable passports until they outlive their lifespan of five years,” he said.
Maritz said Erongo was the first region to be chosen to pilot the data transfer initiative. Depending on the success of the project the ministry plans to roll out the same system to other regional offices.
“Once a person has applied for a passport he or she will be given an electronic receipt with a unique number. People can use this number to track the progress of then production their passports via the short message service (SMS) until they pick it up at our offices in Swakopmund,” Maritz said.
The ministry’s Executive Director added that the passports issued to residents of Namibia will be valid for ten years. He said the decision was taken to lessen the demand for new passports.
The validity of passports for applicants under 21 years of age will remain at five years because of changes in facial features of younger people.