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Biometric chip passports launching in Malta and Jordan this year

Biometric chip passports launching in Malta and Jordan this year

Biometric passports are seeing uptake across continents, with new nations implementing a model that has seen significant success in countries as disparate as Costa Rica and Belarus.

Malta to begin issuing e-passports this fall

The government of Malta says it will start issuing biometric passports in October of this year, according to a report from the Times of Malta. The national passport office has moved into a new building ahead of the launch of a national identity data management system, which will centralize all aspects of identity management by one entity.

For the chipped biometric passports, which will be issued to replace expiring passports, biometric face data will be captured on-site at the passport office and matched with a signature. The chip will be encoded with user biometric data in a controlled environment conforming to key European and U.S. security standards. Registration will include an option to register for a national digital ID or e-ID.

Malta’s Communications Ministry, which is responsible for the program, says the process should take four days from enrolment to finished biometric passport.

Jordan and Uganda expand biometric passport capabilities

Jordan, meanwhile, is even further along the path to chip-based biometric documents, with plans to issue its first electronic passport in June. Ahmad Hanandeh, the country’s Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, confirmed that an unspecified “speciality technology company” has been engaged to collaborate with the ministry and the government government’s Civil Status and Passports Department (CSPD) on production of the chipped biometric passports, Jordan News reports. Prior reports said three companies had qualified to bid for the contract.

The tender (which is unrelated to the 2016 Veridos contract to produce machine readable passports) is part of a national push for digital transformation which has thus far seen Hanandeh’s ministry digitize 45 percent of Jordan’s government services – a total of 1077 services.

Uganda has opened its fourth passport office for issuing e-passports, in the river city of Jinja. The facility has the capacity to process 3,000 passports a day. According to 93.3 KFM, government data says more than one million have been issued since the launch of the initial program in 2018. With the Jinja office adding to offices in Kampala, Mbale and Gulu, the hope is to provide the Kampala office further relief from congestion.

Costa Rica, Belarus see success with new passport uptake

Biometric passports are a priority for many countries seeking up-to-date border control and digital ID infrastructure. The Costa Rica News reports that 750,000 citizens of Costa Rica have signed up for a biometric passport, two years after the program launched. Meanwhile, in Belarus, it is year three of the biometric passport program, and government officials say 3 percent of citizens now have biometric documents. According to SB News, some 220,000 of those are biometric passports.

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