State extends e-passport migration deadline to November

East African Community Kenya passport.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Immigration Department on Friday extended the deadline for the phasing out of the old generation passports to November this year.

The Interior Ministry in a statement dated Friday, January 21 said the deadline had been extended to November 2022. This follows a council meeting of the East African Community (EAC) member states.

The government had previously set a deadline of December 31 last year for the phasing out of the old generation passport, according to the Directorate of Immigration Services.

“However, the 41st Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers held in Arusha from November 22 to 29, 2021, extended the phasing out period of all EAC member Countries passports to November 2022,” said Immigrations Director General Alexander Muteshi.

Dark blue  

 This means Kenyans can continue to travel on the dark blue documents.

 Mr Muteshi said that since Kenya is bound by the Council’s decisions as a member state, the country will abide by the directive until further communications are made.

 This is the fourth time that the deadline for the new passports has been extended after President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019 ordered the extension to March 2020.

 The issuance of the e-passport was to start by January 1, 2017, to phase out the current machine-readable East African and national passports from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2018.

The 35th EAC Council of Ministers directed member states to start issuance of the e-passport by January 31, 2018.

Kenya commenced issuing the new East African format e-Passport in September 2017 in line with digitization of services.

Last year, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i said that the December 31, 2021 deadline will be the last such extension barring any unforeseen circumstances urging Kenyans to take advantage and acquire the biometric passports at the earliest possible opportunity.

Swift service delivery

 “For the avoidance of doubt, starting January 1, 2022, the old dark blue passport will be null and void. No Kenyan will be able to travel abroad without a valid East Africa Community biometric e-passport,” he said then.

In a bid to ensure swift service delivery, the State set up more control centres to facilitate faster issuance of the travel document done within a day of application ahead of the deadline.

Locally, the new centres were set up in Nakuru, Kisii, Eldoret and Embu while in Europe, the centres were established in Berlin, Paris and London. Others abroad are in Washington DC, Dubai and Johannesburg.

The new-generation e-passports feature a microchip containing data about the holder, which also matches the information in the passport booklet.

The e-passport allows information stored on the chip to be verified with the information visually displayed on the booklet.

Due to its secure nature, the e-passport curbs reproduction and tampering. It also enhances imposter detection.

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