Friday, 3 December, 2021
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EDITORIAL

E-passports For Security



Nepal has finally introduced e-passports that ensure greater security than the Machine Readable Passports (MRPs). Senior culture expert Satya Mohan Joshi has become the first person to receive the biometric passport. On Wednesday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Narayan Khadka launched the e-passport by handing over the document to the 102-year-old Joshi. Having received the digital passport, Joshi handed over his old passport to the Department of Passport to keep it at the latter’s museum. It is needless to say that the passport is an emblem of nationalism. With an embedded electronic microprocessor chip, an e-passport possesses biometric information of a person that confirms the identity of the passport holder. This type of passport protects against identity theft, the privacy of the traveller and ward against false documents. As it has numerous layers of security in the design of the e-passport, it will make it almost impossible to duplicate.

The issuance of e-passports is an important move in this sector. However, the government will continue issuing MRPs. And these documents are going to be in vogue at least until 2031. A decade has already elapsed since the launch of biometric passports in the world. The government aims to expand the service of issuing e-passports to the district administration offices in all 77 districts, 18 area administration offices and 40 missions abroad. As of now, more than 120 nations from across the world have opted for this exclusive document. When e-passports are used widely, there could be fewer chances of the vital security documents being misused. Inaugurating the e-passport Personalisation centre at the Department of Passport’s office at Tripureshwore of Kathmandu, Minister Dr. Khadka appreciated the department for the timely execution of safe, reliable and internationally recognised e-passport facility. The biometric passport is considered to be the most trustworthy document globally.

In addition, Live Enrolment System can be installed at all locations for the e-passport and interested individuals can make a pre-enrolment to book their time to apply for the document. As the e-passport is interconnected with the National Identity Card (NIC) and the thumb impressions and picture taken for the NIC will be the major basis for the authentication of the applicant, everyone is required to apply for the NIC compulsorily before applying for the this document. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the new service will facilitate swift printing of passports. The department continues to issue MRPs from its office in Narayanhiti Palace while e-passports are being released from its new office at Tripureshwor.

This may help save time and people can obtain the document in the districts outside of the Kathmandu Valley and in foreign countries within 15 days. As the department is now in its preparatory phase, it will issue only a limited numbers of e-passports for some days. Its service will come into operation in a full-fledged manner following three weeks. Nepal has come a long way when it comes to the development of passport. The country used to issue handwritten passports before 2010. Then, the nation switched to MRPs. In line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the country has now opted for the e-passports. The issuance of the e-passports may help in boosting the country’s international image while controlling the misuse and pilfering of diplomatic passports.