Handwritten passports will no more be valid for travel from November 2015.
This is due to a directive from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to all member countries to phase them out by the said date. Member countries have therefore begun taking steps to ensure those passports are not used by their citizens by the November 2015 deadline.
Disclosing this to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra, the Director of Passports, Mr Eric Odoi-Anim, said Ghana had already moved from using handwritten passports to typewritten ones and so the country might not be affected by the directive. Typewritten passports still valid
He discounted reports that it was the typewritten, machine-readable passports currently used by many Ghanaian travellers that would be phased out, and said it must not be confused with the handwritten ones which Ghana had moved from a long time ago.
‘As a country, we took a forward-looking step much earlier in 2009, when we moved from both the handwritten and machine-readable to biometric, so we now have a biometric regime.
‘What will happen after 2015 is that if you have a handwritten passport you may not be able to use it,’ he explained and added, ‘As we speak now, we have people actively using the typewritten, machine-readable passports.’ Biometric Passport
He clarified the issue further by saying that it was to avoid the inconveniences and difficulties of travelling and for standardisation and uniformity purposes that the government advised Ghanaian citizens to opt for the newly introduced biometric passports, since many countries were now using that.
Referring to the biometric passport, he said, ‘It is in your interest to get this, because that is the logical thing to do. We as a country have taken the decisive step to come forward, so we are a step ahead.
‘It is our national regime that has moved one, two steps ahead of the ICAO requirement and we are saying come and be part of the more modern system. That is a Ghana internal situation and must not be confused with the ICAO deadline of November 2015 for the handwritten, non-machine readable passport,’ he reiterated.
Mr Odoi-Anim stressed, however, that the advice to citizens to opt for the biometric passports did not make the typewritten, machine-readable passport invalid.
While declining to mention the security features of the biometric passport for security reasons, the Director of Passports said biometric passports incorporated one’s facial features and fingerprints and were more secure by way of identifying the traveller.
‘They are a step ahead of the two; so there is a preference for it by most embassies because it does away with the possibility of photo substitution, somebody else assuming another person’s identity to carry out terrorist attacks, money laundering, human trafficking etc.,’ he stated. Phasing out of typewritten passports
Mr Odoi-Anim revealed that although Ghana had a plan in place to phase out typewritten, machine-readable passports, that was dependent on when the government could put logistics together, adding that embassies abroad were given the capacity to access biometric passports and Ghanaians migrated to it.
‘For credibility, it is not in our interest to operate a two-tier passport system as we are doing now because right now, people are travelling on both the typewritten and biometric, ‘ he said.
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