Dar es Salaam — Time is fast running out for holders of machine readable passports, with only five months to go before the travel document is phased out.
But even as clock ticks, only 13.8 per cent of Tanzanians have acquired the new electronic passports, according to data from the Immigration Department.
Since the launch of electronic passport in January 2018, latest data shows that only 131,418 Tanzanians have acquired the new electronic passports, compared to the estimated 950,000 who hold the machine readable passports.
Already, some countries no longer accept the old generation passports.
The Immigration Department says there is a low uptake of the new passports.
The electronic passport costs Sh150,000, three times the old one, which was pegged at Sh50,000.
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In an interview with The Citizen, Immigration Department spokesperson Ally Mtanda said the two-year window period expires on January 31, 2020.
"I call upon Tanzanian citizens who want the new electronic passports to apply in any of our offices which are closest to them," he said.
According to him the Department has simplified the requirements for those holding the old generation passports.
"All they need is the National Identification Number (NIN) from National Identification Authority (Nida) and their previous passports," he said, adding: "They must follow all the procedures in applying a passport by filling in the forms on our website."
Where to get a passport
Infrastructure for the new passports has been installed at the Department's main office in Dar es Salaam, Immigration offices in Zanzibar and in 29 regions across the country in both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
Tanzanian citizens abroad can also apply for the passport from 27 embassies.
These include England (London), France (Paris), USA (Washington DC NA New York), Canada (Otawa), IsraeI (Telaviv), Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Riyadhi), Comoro (Moron) and Kenya (Nairobi and Mombasa).
Others are Germany (Berlin), Algeria (Algiers), Italy (Rome), Nigeria (Abuja), Egypt (Cairo), Holland (The Hague), Belgium (Brussels), Zambia (Lusaka), India (New Delhi), Malawi (Lilongwe), China (Beijing), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Kuwait, Oman (Mascat), Mozambique (Maputo ) and Zimbabwe.
The Department insists that the use of MRP will come to an end on January 31, 2020 and no time will be added.
In 2018, Tanzania began issuing single electronic East African Community (EAC) passports, replacing the readable East African and ordinary passport issued by the member states.
The EAC directed its members to begin issuance of the new digital passport by January 31, 2018.
The new e-passport database is enhanced with an Automated Fingerprint Verification System to minimise fraud, identity theft, forgery and passport skimming.