Saturday, 25 March 2023 11:24

Jamaica to begin issuing e-passports to the public

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On Friday, March 31, 2023, the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) is to go live with a new high-security electronic or e-passport document to members of the public.

PICA has been taking steps over the years to secure Jamaica’s passport as part of its efforts to safeguard the identity of Jamaicans and the Jamaican travel document, and the e-passport is the latest initiative in that regard.

As the agency goes through its process of upgrading its passport system by providing a better quality product, it is reassuring the public that the passports that have been previously issued are still valid until the date of expiration, and there is no need to change them.

Also, PICA says there will be no increase in fees associated with the introduction of the e-passport.

An e-passport is an electronic machine-readable passport with an embedded microchip that stores a digital version of the holder’s biographical data. The chip has a unique digital signature, specific to each issuing country, and is activated once the chip is encoded.

PICA says the e-passport is a robust biometric document with added layers of security that can aid in the fight against new and emerging threats to identity theft and national security.

“The introduction of the e-passports in Jamaica will see the nation joining more than 150 countries that use e-passports, including 11 of its CARICOM neighbours,” said the agency in a release on Friday.

PICA said its decision to issue the document is aimed at facilitating greater confidence and acceptance of the Jamaican passport for travel facilitation globally.

It added that the move “will now ensure that the country’s passport is aligned with the growing number of countries using e-passports. The new document will bear the e-passport logo that’s used by all e-passports-issuing countries around the world.”

Commenting on the development, PICA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO, Andrew Wynter, said that the introduction of e-passports at this time is necessary to bring Jamaica in line with emerging trends globally.  He said, “Over the years, PICA has been infusing state-of-the-art technology into its operations to equip the agency to effectively undertake its mandate of securing Jamaica’s borders and safeguarding its sovereignty by providing quality service and products to its citizens.” 

He added that effective identity and border security will bring Jamaica in line with its global partners.

According to Wynter, the e-passport initiative is aligned with PICA’s strategic objective of enhancing travel facilitation through risk-based and data-driven inspection, and indicated that this will help to support the country’s realisation of its Vision 2030 objectives.