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Goodbye Old Passports! E-passports For Indians Is On The Way

While the dates are yet to be confirmed about when Indians will have access to E-passports, the news is now officially confirmed and it is only a matter of time before we get to enjoy the benefits of E-passports.

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One of the biggest struggles while going on an international vacation is – the passport. The tiring process of having to wait in long winding queues during airport check-ins and the thought of losing your passport cause additional inconveniences. At times, one even starts to lose interest in the vacation and start to wonder if there is an easier way out to avoid such hassles. And the solution to this does not seem far away; if recent reports are anything to go by, Indians will soon have access to E-passports.  

For those unaware about E-passports, which are also known as a digital passport or a biometric passport is simply the digitized version of the physical copy of an individual’s passport. All essential data is stored on a chip. This data, at its very basic, will include biometric details such as fingerprints, facial recognition and iris scans. E-passports also contain traditional text-based information along with personal biometric information. 

But why is there a sudden need for E-passports? 

The concept of E-passport is not a novel one. It has been adopted by numerous countries across the world, with Australia being one of the very first countries to expedite this process. There are numerous advantages of opting for an E-passport. With an increase in identity theft and sophisticated fraud, governments across the world have made the decision to switch to E-passports. E-passports are designed to increase security, making it more difficult to tamper with data recorded on a passport, thereby limiting the chances of fraud. Biometric passports have helped improve immigration processes at airports which are equipped with automatic E-passport gates. This means, no more waiting in queues and travellers can cruise to their seats directly. 

Closer home, it was in 2008 that India issued the first-ever contactless E-passport, to the then President, Pratibha Patil. It carried details about her name, date of birth, nationality, fingerprint and facial biometrics. It was then decided that similar E-passports would be issued to 8,00,000 other diplomats and government officials by 2010. Although this did not take off, there have been updates that E-passports for Indians may be available in the not-so-distant future. 

On the occasion of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said, “Our embassies and consulates are being contacted by the Passport Seva Project worldwide. This will prepare a centralized system connected to the passport service for all of you. Going one step ahead, work is on for issuing the chip-based E-passport.” 

With more countries adopting E-passports, it will be easier for travellers to pass all formalities at departure and arrival. Travellers will have much to gain from this accelerated pace of security and other procedures. Coupled with E-ticketing and streamlining of passenger handling by airlines, maybe some measure of what made flying so magical will return to holidays. 

So, yes, while the dates are yet to be confirmed about when Indians will have access to E-passports, the news is now officially confirmed and it is only a matter of time before we get to enjoy the benefits of E-passports. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Hari Ganapathy

The author is Co-Founder, Pickyourtrail

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