E-passports applicants to book appointments

Kenyans applying for passports will now be required to book appointments through the e-citizen portal before visiting passport processing centres.

The Immigration Department directed applicants who had already made their passport applications online to revisit the e-citizen portal in order to book appointments.

The newly introduced appointment system seeks to address congestion in passport processing centres by ensuring that only those who have booked appointments can visit passport centres.

The Immigration Department however said exemption will be made to public officials with agent assignments abroad, as well as sick persons, students and business executives with argent engagements abroad.

They will need to provide evidence for the exemption.

Although passport applications are made online through the e-citizen portal, applicants visit passport processing centres to have their biometrics taken.

There have been big queues at passport centres as Kenyans rushed to renew the documents to meet the deadlines. This is seen as part of the reasons behind the introduction of the booking portal.

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The government had last month extended the deadline to travel on the new e-passports to March 1 next year for all Kenyans from the initial one that had been set for August 31.

Kenya started issuing single electronic East African Community (EAC) passports in August 2017 replacing the readable ordinary ones.

EAC directed its members to issue the digital ones and a number of countries have so far adopted the documents.

According to officials, the new passport is enhanced with an Automated Fingerprint Verification System to minimize fraud.

Director of Immigration Services Alex Muteshi said the e-passport will assist Kenyans in easing travel, especially through use of automated border clearances or e-gates, automated issuance of the boarding passes and faster travel arrangements with airlines and immigration checks worldwide.

"The deployment of the e-passport system will definitely strengthen the integrity and restore international confidence and rating of Kenyan passports," he said.

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