October 31, 2012 -
Zimbabwe is exploring the implementation of ePassports before the end of the year, according to the country’s Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone.
ePassports, also known as “biometric passports” contain an electronic chip that is encoded with surname, given name, date of birth, place of birth and gender information. It also includes a digital picture of the bearer’s face. Signatures are not reproduced on the chip.
The Zimbabwe government believes that the introduction and mass production of the new travel document will reduce the price of the document. Currently, an ordinary Zimbabwean passport costs US$50 while other regional countries charge less than US$30.
Makone said that a new digitalized document would curb counterfeit documents and would also allow the country to match the rapidly adopted international ePassport standard.
The deployment of the ePassport also coincides with the Foreign Ministry’s new digitalized passport application processes, which allow residents to obtain passport applications online.
Despite the online availability of ePassport applications, applicants will still need to go to the passport office to complete their applications in person, and will also require a national ID card in order to submit their application.