Eight years after the introduction of machine readable passport (MRP), the government is going to introduce high-tech electronic passports or e-passports for citizens soon.
The Department of Immigration and Passports (DIP) has taken the initiative to enhance the security of Bangladeshi passports and to further increase their acceptability.According to the department, introduction of modern technology-based e-passports in the country is necessary also to keep pace with other countries of the world and to ensure the smooth arrival and departure of Bangladeshi citizens and foreign nationals at the immigration check post.
E-passports are already in operation in some 120 countries since they are more secure and safe than the MRPs.
E-passports contain an embedded electronic microprocessor chip with information on the holder. The e-passports will boast 38 security features, including a holographic image embossed in thin film laminate. The e-passports will change colour under light.
The department has undertaken the project titled ‘Bangladesh e-passport and formulation of automated border control management’ at an estimated cost of Tk 4,635.91 crore to be implemented with the funds from the state exchequer. Under the project, three crore (30 million) e-passports will be given in the next 10 years.
The Department of Immigration and Passports under the Security Service Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs will implement the project. The project is scheduled to be implemented from July 2018 to June 2028.
During the making of the e-passports, demographic information, fingerprints of all ten fingers, retina scans, and digital signatures will be collected from the holders.Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the e-passport project has been undertaken to fulfil various international demands as many countries in the world nowadays do not accept MRPs.
“The e-passports will have some 38 security features. During the implementation of the project, the MRPs will also be in effect alongside the e-passports,” he added.
He also said that in the first phase 20 lakh (2 million) e-passports will come from Germany after printing and then the rest of 2.8 crore e-passports will be made in Bangladesh after installing necessary machinery.
Data will be transferred to the e-passport database from the existing machine readable passport database, he added.
“Validity period of the e-passport will be 5 years and 10 years and they will contain 48 pages and 64 pages respectively,” he added.
The project area covers the main office of Department of Immigration and Passports in Dhaka, Diplomatic Passport Office, data centre, passport assembly line, personalisation centre and training centre in Dhaka.
The project will also be implemented at all the 72 regional passport offices in 64 districts, some 80 Bangladesh missions abroad, disaster recovery centre in Jashore, three international airports in the country, automated border control system at two land ports and some 22 other border control system, some 72 SB or DSB offices and the reference point at Munich in Germany.
According to the officials of the Department of Immigration and Passports, the work of the project will start from July 2018.
Earlier on April 24 in 2016 during the inauguration of passport service week, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave the directives for initiating the process of lunching e-passports in the country.
Besides, during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Germany last year, an MoU was signed between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the German-based organisation Veridos GmbH regarding launching of e-passports in Bangladesh.
Veridos GmbH will work with the Department of Immigration and Passports on Government to Government (G2G) basis as the Federal Ministry of Finance of Germany has certified Veridos GmbH as a government organisation.
The government on April 1, 2010 introduced the machine readable passports (MRP) and visas as per the guideline of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). But the current machine readable passport (MRP) does not have the scope for preserving the print of 10 fingers of a passport holder in the database.