Barbados switches to e-passports

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(CMC) — Barbados has announced that it is phasing out the machine-readable passport in favour of the electronic passport, following a recommendation by the International Civil Aviation Authority as the new standard to be adopted for travel document issuance.

Chief Immigration Officer Wayne Marshall said that the e-passport was a biometrically enabled passport with a chip and antenna in the cover that increased the security features.

“It would be more difficult to replace an e-passport because there is a chip in the actual cover. Anyone seeking to replicate the passport would have to remove the chip and ensure that it has the same information as on the biodata page,” he said.

Marshall said that the chip would capture the same biometric information — facial representation and biodata — as the machine-readable passports.

However, he noted that the computer chip in the cover could not be easily accessed, replicated or changed, thereby enhancing the security feature of the passport.

Marshall said that the more security features a passport had, the more accepted it was by countries around the world.

“Barbados is moving towards it because of the security features and to maintain the high standard of the Barbados passport,” he said, adding that the island ranks highest among Caribbean countries that do not require a visa for entry into most countries.

However, it is a standard which all Caribbean countries will have to meet over time. Once fully implemented, individuals would not have a choice as to if they should get an e-passport or not, as the machine readable passports would be phased out.

Marshall also recommended that people wait until their passports expire before applying for a new passport.

“There is no urgency to get the e-passport versus the machine-readable one because it will be used in a similar way. The machine-readable passport will be accepted even though the e-passport is in circulation,” he said, indicating that the application process was the same for those persons renewing or applying for passports for the first time.

The adult e-passports will be valid for the usual 10-year period, while the children’s would be for five years.

Last month, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced that his country would be adopting the e-passport.

“We have taken the decision to proceed with the issuance of electronic passports in Dominica… The only reason why we have not signed the agreement with this international firm is because we had an existing agreement for the machine passports that [was] not affirmed. So we had to go through this legal contract to look at the escape clause,” he said.

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