Kenyans in the Gulf countries will now be able to renew their passports at the Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Kenyans in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iraq, the three countries the Kenyan Mission in Riyadh is accredited to, will not need to travel back home to replace their old passports or replace lost documents.
“This is to inform that the Embassy in Riyadh has been approved by the Government to process the new generation passports (e-passports),” read a statement from the Kenyan Embassy in Riyadh on Tuesday.
The Embassy however indicated it might take some time for the service to be fully operational.
“As we celebrate this great news and embark on the process of setting up the infrastructure for delivering this service, the Embassy calls on Kenyans to be patient as you will be advised on when the system is set up and ready to go.
“Kindly note that the Embassy will be providing guidance on the process as and when necessary,” the statement further read.
Riyadh will now be the seventh centre in the diaspora after Washington DC, Berlin, Paris, London, Dubai and Johannesburg.
Challenges during rollout
The rollout of the new e-Passports in Kenya has been met with challenges. The new e-Passport was launched in 2017.
In 2019, the government opened 10 new immigration centres in the country in a bid to ease congestion on the issuance of the new passports. They also added six other centres in the diaspora.
The government however, in July 2019, extended the deadline of getting the new passports to March 2020. In 2020, the Ministry of Interior said that the issuance of identity cards, passports, birth and death certificates would start on July 1 2020.
This year again, the Kenyan government extended the deadline for the migration to the new blue e-Passports due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Interior CS, Fred Matiangi extended the deadline to December 31 2021.
“The government has been in the process of phasing out the old-generation passports as part of the binding commitment made to migrate to the new East African Community biometric e-passport. For the avoidance of doubt, starting January 1 2022, the old dark blue passport will be null and void and no Kenyan will be able to travel internationally without a valid East African Community biometric e-passport,” he added.