Islamabad: Pakistan is set to issue e-passports by June this year and a German company has been awarded the contract to facilitate the system.
“This [e-passport] service would be available by June” federal minister for interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said. He confirmed that a German company has been hired to introduce the electronic passport system in the country. Interior minister described it as a key development that would help eradicate all the hurdles in the current manual system and assist Pakistanis living abroad process online applications conveniently.
Biometric documents will speed up the identification process, simplifying passport control and paving the way for automation of services. The new e-passports will have a biometric chip containing personal data such as photograph, fingerprints and other information.
Moreover, the passport validity has also been increased to 10 years and its fee had also been reduced to half. Sheikh Rasheed said that the entire visa application process is now online and about 300,000 visas had been issued while only 12,000 visa applications were rejected during the last four months.
Pakistan announced to process all visa applications through an online visa portal only from February 2021, phasing out the exhausting manual visa system. The e-visa facility is part of the government’s digital transformation efforts to simplify and streamline visa facilities and to encourage tourism and business visits to Pakistan.
The e-passport has a contactless microprocessor that stores the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page such as the holder’s name, date of birth, passport number, photograph as well as fingerprints, and signatures.
The electronic passport adds a special layer of security to the traditional travel document and reduces the risk of fraud.
More than 150 countries have rolled out e-passports by 2020, according to reports.