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Serbia, Kosovo reach reciprocal deal to accept ID cards as travel documents

Serbia, Kosovo reach reciprocal deal to accept ID cards as travel documents

A series of digital ID credentials issued around the world that people can use to cross borders are going through changes, headlined by a deal to move beyond conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

Holders of the Serbia national ID card can henceforth enter Kosovo without additional travel documents, and the reverse is true for Kosovo, reports Reuters, citing the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade has never recognized that, although many countries around the world, some in the European Union, accept the landlocked entity as an independence republic.

Serbia and Kosovo have been in dispute since then.

Per Reuters reporting, Borrell confirmed having had guarantees from Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti that a deal has been reached to allow Kosovo Serbs and other citizens travel between the two nations without extra travel requirements.

While the issue of ID cards as travel pass has been resolved, an agreement still has to be reached regarding Serbian vehicle number plates still being issued to Serbs in the north of Kosovo.

The Kosovo government, in the meantime, has said Serbs in the north of its territory using the Serbian government-issued number plates will have to stop using them from 1 September 2022.

There have been talks led by U.S. and EU authorities on the number plate matter, but there is yet to be a breakthrough, according to Reuters.

However, the outlet quotes Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic as saying a guarantee is needed from the EU for a possible agreement, adding that the acceptance of the Kosovo digital ID card, which includes biometric data, for travel purposes by Belgrade is no recognition of the territory’s independence.

Russia halts issuance of biometric passport for citizens abroad

The issuance of biometric passports for some Russians living abroad has been suspended, reports BBC raising suspicions about possible shortage of the chips used to store biometric data.

Meanwhile, the validity of passports with chips has been reduced from 10 years to five, according to the report, alluding to information published on the website of Russia’s foreign ministry.

Many of those to be affected by this development are Russians who require a second passport, in cases where their first one has run out of pages for visa stamps.

The BCC quotes a legalist who opines that the move may be a deliberate attempt to control the movement of some Russian citizens.

Swiss biometric passport to be redesigned

In the face of growing exigencies associated with travel document security, Swiss authorities say they plan to roll out a redesigned version of the country’s biometric passport from next month.

Schengen Visa Info quotes federal police authorities as saying the passport in its present form has existed for 20 years although it became biometric in 2006.

They say it is high time the security standards of the document were upgraded to meet current needs, and requirements for issuance will remain the same.

The redesigned passport will still have a red cover, and will include the 26 cantons and the ‘fifth Switzerland’ features, representing Swiss citizens abroad, say the federal police.

Holders of the current passport can continue to use them until expiry, but those who want to switch to the new design must book an appointment latest 31 October to submit their biometrics, reports Schengen Visa Info.

Emergency passports with the new design will be introduced at a date to be announced.

South Korean island to introduce digital travel authorization system

Jeju, an island in the southern part of South Korea, known for its tourist potential, is planning to introduce a digital travel authorization system dubbed the Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) from next month, reports Inquirer.

The move, which will involve only travelers from visa-free countries, was prompted by a recent incident in which some tourists from Thailand entered Jeju but were eventually sent back over allegations of overstay after straying off tour guides.

According to Jeju authorities, all those visiting the island either for purposes of tourism, business or family visits, will have to obtain the K-ETA after submitting personal information via a dedicated website or a mobile application.

South Korea introduced the K-ETA last year but Jeju was not part of it as it is considered an autonomous entity for travel purposes.

Immigration officials are said to have recently held a town hall to consult the public on the imminent introduction of the digital travel authorization system.

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