Malawi: Immigration Department Suspends New Passport Applications - Malawi to Print First E-Passports January 14

9 January 2020

Department of Immigration and Citizenship Servicessays it has shut down its offices for new passport applicants as it is migrating from machine readable passports to e-passports aimed at meeting International Civil Aviation Organisation security requirements which seek to enhance security.

Chief Immigration Officer Medi: The e-passport's application, issuance procedure and appearance is the same as current passports, with the difference being that the e-passports will have chips that will store the holder's biodata which includes the name, photograph, fingerprints, dates of passport issuance or expiry

An e-passport is the same as a traditional one with the addition of a small integrated circuit (or chip) embedded in one of the covers or pages.

A statement from the office says it has suspended new passport applications up to January 13, 2020. The services are expected to resume on January 14.

Chief Immigration Officer Masauko Medi said his department is set for the exercise to roll out and print the first electronic passports (e-passports) by January 14 2020.

Medi said the new system is more secure and applicants will no longer need to travel to their respective districts of origin to have the district commissioner authenticate their home of origin as that requirement will be covered by the national identity card.

The Chief Immigration Officer however said the department will allow time for the transition.

"Those with valid passports will be allowed to use them, although they can apply for the e-passport, and the two will be working together until the old one expires or the cutoff date is reached," he said.

This comes after Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee told the department to put the exercise of the migration on hold until Parliament approves it.

Legal Affairs chairperson Kezzie Msukwa said such a serious policy issue needed the approval of parliament.

It is not yet known how parliament will react now that the department has gone flat out to implement the policy disregarding the advice from parliament.

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