If you have a passport issued before 2007, you will need to have it renewed despite it being valid. Those holding a passport issued in 2006, that should be running out next year, have only up to 24th November to get a new passport.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) requires strict usage of digital travel documents that can be read by machines in efforts to combat forgery by criminals and terrorists.
Kenya stopped issuance of non-digital travel documents in 2007 with the adoption of machine readable passports that have enhanced security features, according to the Immigration Department. This means the Icao deadline will affect holders of 10-year-old passports who got the documents in 2006.
“November 24 of this year is the deadline by which all non-machine readable passports should be removed from global circulation,” Icao deputy regional director Prosper Minto’o said during a stakeholders’ conference in Nairobi.
A machine-readable passport has letters and numbers that can be scanned by machines as opposed to typed text. It has two lines of text and chevrons (<<<<<) at the bottom of the biodata page (containing personal information) of the document.
The photo of the holder is also printed directly on the biodata page as opposed to affixing or laminating into the passport. Widespread threats of terrorism and corruption have seen a number of countries tighten their passport controls, including introducing e-passports with the biometric features of the holder.
The e-passport has a computer chip on the back of the biodata page that holds the same information printed on the biodata page, a watertight security model recommended by the Icao.
“One hundred and twenty of Icao’s 191-member states now report that they are issuing ePassports – with nearly 500 million in circulation worldwide,” said Mr Minto’o.
He said investigations had revealed that terror cells have increasingly been leveraging on the ease with which on-digital passports can be forged to travel across borders.
“With the onset of the digital age, we now have an opportunity to streamline and harmonise travel documents across the globe,” Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe.