Government Plans to Replace MRPs with e-passports from April 2020. The Department of Passport (DoP) has begun the preparation to start issuing e-passport from the mid-April 2020.
An e-passport is a traditional passport that has an embedded electronic microprocessor chip, which contains biometric information that can be used to authenticate the identity of the passport holder. It is also known as a Biometric Passport or Digital Passport.
The replacement of Machine readable Passports (MRPs) had been planned since past couple of years. But now, Government Plans to replace MRPs with e-passports from April 2020. A recent Cabinet meeting agreed to switch MRPs to ePassport providing legal ground for DoP to implement the plan, stated Director General of DoP, Ram Kaji Khadka.
“The DoP is gearing up to hold three separate meetings with experts on the three subjects’ matters: to discuss technical specifications of e-passports, to conduct the cost analysis of e-passport, and to look into the implementation of e-passport system” states Ram Kaji Khadka. “Amidst increasing cases of duplicate passports, ill-practices will be less likely with the substitution of ePassports as they incorporate sophisticated technologies” adds Khadka.
E-passport uses contactless smart card technology, including a microprocessor chip and antenna (for both power to the chip and communication) embedded in the front or back cover, or centre page, of the passport. The passport’s critical information is both printed on the data page of the passport and stored in the chip. Public key infrastructure (PKI) is used to authenticate the data stored electronically in the passport chip making it expensive and difficult to forge when all security mechanisms are fully and correctly implemented.
“We have much groundwork to cover before we can introduce the e-passport system in the country. However, we plan to start issuing such chip-fitted digital passports from mid-April 2020,” informed Khadka. As DoP still has 1.5 million MRP booklets, it plans to complete issuing passports under the current format within two years. As per Khadka, DoP will not print MRPs after clearing the existing stocks.
“As soon as we finalize the technical specifications and cost analysis of e-passports, we will call for a global tender to implement it. We will gradually substitute MRPs with e-passport,” added Khadka.
The government had stopped issuing handwritten passports after March 2010 and implemented the MRP system. So far, DoP has issued MRPs to 5.5 million Nepali citizens. Khadka informed that DoP has been issuing almost 2,000 MRPs on an average every day at present.
Reference: The Himalayan Times