Monday 16th April, 2018- A phasing out of Machine-Readable Passports is to begin in a matter of weeks to make way for a more advanced travel document.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne made the announcement as an investigation continues into passport fraud in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, allegedly involving Antiguan Passport Bio Pages.
Machine Readable Passports were introduced in Antigua and Barbuda in 2006. Twelve years on, steps are being taken to implement the bio-metric passport.
Biometric Passports are also referred to as e-passports and/or digital passports.
The passport has a tiny electronic chip which contains biometric information of the passport holder. Besides the personal data that can be found on the passport’s first page, the chip also includes the photo of the holder and fingerprint.
They passports are known for its additional safety measures that make it resistant to fraud and identity theft.
Prime Minister Browne commenting on last week’s developments that have resulted in the suspension of a senior police officer, attempted to set the record straight when he noted that the allegations are not about stolen passports, but rather bio pages. He said the Permanent Secretary in the Passport Office has given him the assurance that all of the country’s passports are accounted for.