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Governments adding biometrics, digitizing ID worldwide: Zimbabwe passports, China mDLs, Belarus ID cards

Governments adding biometrics, digitizing ID worldwide: Zimbabwe passports, China mDLs, Belarus ID cards

National ID continues to go biometric and digital around the world. Zimbabwe’s Civil Registry prepares to go digital with Semlex bringing hope – and anxiety – to Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora, and Bangladesh begins bringing biometric passport provision to every overseas mission. China extends its digital driver’s license pilot after 2 million sign up, Belarus sees thousands of applications for biometric credentials in the first week, Albania opens up biometric residency permits and Ukrainians keep applying for passports.

Zimbabwe Civil Registry ready for digital migration by December

Zimbabwe citizens worldwide should see their records digitized, passport applications accelerated and ID card shortage ended as government collaboration with a private partner continues, reports The Herald.

Zimbabwe recently appointed Semlex, apparently without a tender, to produce its biometric passports. The move sparked controversy due to the Belgian firm’s past scandalous dealings in Africa.

A previous government announcement stated one company is providing all digital registry services, including a biometric database, ID card and passport production.

The Herald reports that the digitization of the Civil Registry Department is due for completion by the end of December and is hoped to improve access for national documents. The digital migration of the registry itself is expected to begin the same month.

The Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Selex said the ultimate objective is for citizens to be able to apply online for passports without having to travel long distances to Harare or Lupane. The new system is expected to be more efficient and help clear the current 226,000 passport application backlog.

Passport office workers are reportedly working double shifts and the new system should have a capacity of four million per year, with a promise not to increase prices.

The Registry Department also expects that the fact there is a private partner involved to mean that the issue of a lack of consumables to produce ID cards will be solved.

Chinese driving licenses to go digital by 2022

Following a successful pilot program, China is to expand the issuance of mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) across more regions this year ahead of a full national roll out in 2022, reports State media.

The license is issued through an official mobile app and has the same legal significance as the paper license.

Digital driver’s licenses have already been obtained by 1.95 million people since the beginning of June in the pilot cities of Tianjin, Chengdu and Suzhou.

Foreigner residence permits go biometric in Albania

Foreign nationals living in Albania will have their paper residence permits upgraded to electronic cards containing their biometrics, reports Albanian Daily News.

The transition is part of the digitization of Albania’s ‘Civil Status’ services. The new credential will give an estimated 20,000 foreign residents access to the e-Albania government services portal.

Foreign residents have to present themselves at offices of the company Aleat in the next 30 days to apply for the electronic document “with biometric data.”

All Bangladeshi missions to offer biometric ePassport services

Enrollment and issuance services for the new biometric passport will soon be available in all Bangladeshi missions worldwide, according to Veridos which has provided the infrastructure and training in Bangladesh and abroad.

The Berlin embassy, in Veridos’s home country, has already been equipped. Citizens of Bangladesh can apply online for their electronic passport. Larger embassies dealing with a greater volume of request will also offer appointments for biometric capture to reduce waiting times.

Consular staff will take applicants’ biometrics including fingerprints, iris scans and facial photos. The information is sent to Dhaka where the credentials are printed and despatched to missions.

Veridos introduced the biometric e-passport to Bangladesh in 2020 to replace the machine-readable version, and also provided 50 e-gates for automated border control at airports and land crossings.

Belarus biometrics capture systems fully operational

Belarusians can now apply for the new generation of biometric passports and ID cards according to the Telegram channel of Belarusian Internal Affairs Ministry Press Secretary, reports the BelTA news agency.

The services opened on 1 September and more than 300 applied for ID cards on the first day and 270 applied for biometric passports. Two hundred foreign residents also applied for biometric residence permits. More than 3,000 applications were filed in the first week and further applications were made to consulates abroad.

“According to the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Belarusian Internal Affairs Ministry, citizens had no serious complaints about the system used to collect biometric data,” states the report, although there were some technical hitches at the outset.

Ukraine continues strong biometric passport issuance

Ukraine issued 209,000 biometric passports in August, bringing the total for 2021 to 1.4 million, reports MENAFN. 182,000 ID cards were also issued in August bringing the running total to more than a million for the year so far, though both figures were down on July’s.

In July the State Migration Service announced that 19 million biometric passports have been issued since their introduction in 2015.

In August Ukraine became the first country in the world to give equal status to digital passports as paper e-passports. The digital version is held in an app and can even be used for some foreign travel.

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