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Government extends deadline for migration to e-passport by a year

By Cyrus Ombati | February 24th 2020
By Cyrus Ombati | February 24th 2020

The government has extended the deadline to travel on the new e-passport to March 1, 2021 for all Kenyans.

This means Kenyans can continue to travel on the dark blue documents. Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said Monday 1.8 million Kenyans, mostly those in diaspora are holding to the dark blue passports.

“We note with concern that 1.8 million Kenyans, mostly in diaspora, are yet to replace their old passports with the East African Community biometric e-passport,” he said.

The CS said the government is progressively phasing out the old ordinary passports as part of Kenya’s commitment to migrate to the new-generation e-passport in accordance with ICAO specifications.

“Due to this, the government hereby extends the deadline for voiding the current dark blue machine-readable passport by 12 months. As such, its holders may continue using it until March 1, 2021 when it will no longer be valid for traveling,” said Matiang’i.

He said to rationalize the issuance of this travel document, the government has since set up and operationalized four passport control centres in Nakuru, Kisii, Eldoret and Embu, and six others in the diaspora ? three in Europe (Berlin, Paris and London), one in the U.S. (Washington DC), another in Johannesburg, South Africa, and one more in Dubai.

He added that plans are underway to achieve same-day issuance of passports by July 1, 2020.

Matinag’i told the Kenyans still holding the dark blue passport to take full advantage of this period to acquire the EAC-format electronic passports at the earliest opportunity possible, to avoid last minute rush, unnecessary jam-ups at the centres, and travelling inconveniencies.

It is the second time the government makes the extension. President Kenyatta had last year extended the deadline to this March.

The government had previously announced that the old passports would be invalid beginning last September causing a scramble and last-minute rush for the new e-passports ahead of the deadline.

The process to acquire the new passports had turned into a nightmare for many Kenyans who were forced to spend long hours on the endless queues at Nyayo House in Nairobi.

In August 2017, Kenya began issuing single electronic East African Community (EAC) passports, replacing the readable East African and ordinary passport issued by the member states.

EAC directed its members to begin issuance of the new digital passport by January 31, 2018.

The new e-passport database is enhanced with an Automated Fingerprint Verification System to minimise fraud, identity theft, forgery and passport skimming.

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