The government is going to launch e-passports (electronic passports) on January 22.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will formally unveil this at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said yesterday.
After the inauguration, issuing of the passport will primarily begin from regional passport offices in the capital’s Uttara and Jatrabari, and from divisional passport and visa office in Agargaon, he added.
Addressing a press conference at his ministry, Asaduzzaman said president and the prime minister would get the e-passport first, and then the others would apply for it. Some 25,000 e-passports can be issued daily, he said.
The passport will be delivered from three offices at first and then from 72 regional and divisional offices, and 80 foreign missions gradually, the minister added.
The machine-readable passport will be valid even after the e-passport inauguration. But it will be replaced gradually, said officials.
The project -- “Introduction of Bangladesh e-Passport and Automated Border Control Management” -- is being implemented by German company Veridos GmbH in association with Bangladesh Army, under the Department of Immigration and Passports (DIP).
The biographical and biometric information of passport holders will remain safe in e-passport chip. The real information of the passport holders and facial recognition will be verified automatically within 30 seconds through digital signature, said the minister.
Bangladesh is the first country in South Asia to introduce the e-passport, said the home ministry.
There will be two types of e-passport with 48-page and 64-page, and their tenure will be five years and 10 years. It will need 15 days for delivering a general passport, while an urgent passport will be delivered in seven days.
In case of re-issue, applicants will get their passports within two days, said officials.
People living abroad will also get their e-passports within the same delivery period, but they will not be eligible for the most urgent facilities even for the re-issue service, they said, adding that the passport fees could be paid using debit and credit cards.
The government has fixed separate fees for Bangladesh missions abroad.
E-passport application can be submitted online or manually after downloading the PDF form, and no one needs to attach any image or documents to it, said the home minister.
With the e-passport launch, 50 eGates will also be installed at 27 immigration check posts.
EGates are automated self-service barriers which use the data stored in the chip in biometric passports to verify identity.
Primarily, diplomatic and official passport holders, CIPs (Commercially Important Persons), tax card holders, and Bangladeshi pilot and crew members will be able to use the eGates, said officials.
In reply to a query, the home minister said digitalised identity cards were provided to Rohingyas and those were registered. It was not possible to get e-passports hiding information.
He said police verification was required to get an e-passport. But they were trying to complete it online to ease complications.
On July 19 in 2018, the DIP and German company Veridos GmbH signed an agreement for electronic passports. According to the project details, it is being implemented at a cost of Tk 4,569 crore.