Kenya will start rolling out digital passports beginning September, to replace the current travel documents. The new electronic passports aim at curbing forgery and easing clearance at international airports across the world.
Holders of old generation passports will only be allowed to use them for two years after which they must apply for the e-passports at a fee.
Immigration Services Director Dr Gordon Kihalangwa assured that visas for other countries currently held by Kenyans will remain valid until they expire. They will be forced to acquire digital ones at Sh4,550 for the ordinary 32-page passport and Sh6,050 for the 48-page passport. 64-page ordinary passport and diplomatic e-passports will go for Sh7,550.
“The current passport does not have a chip that stores the passport holder’s information while the e-passport has one. The chip will hold the same information that is printed on the passport's data page,” he said.
Kihalagwa further said the new e-passports conforms to international passport security standards. Passports are required to have a tamper-proof electronic chip that contains information and travel history of the holder.
The new smart passport will also replace the East African passport and individual passports issued to EAC bloc member states of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda to their citizens.
“The processing duration remains the same, 10 working days and the requirements as well remain the same,” Kihalangwa said, adding that smart gates will be installed at Kenyan airports to facilitate faster clearance of travelers.
Kenyans who recently applied for new travel documents will be issued with ordinary passports they applied for, the director said.