East Africa to start issuing regional passport

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The East African Community (EAC) will start issuing international passports early next year, reports the Daily News

EAC six partner states; Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi & South Sudan, have agreed to start the release East African machine readable Electronic passports by January 2018 after the just concluded 35th EAC Council of Ministers, meeting in Tanzania.

The directive follows the regions’ Presidents agreement to start the issuance of the e-passport between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018.

Burundi, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have completed the process of procuring the EA e-Passport booklets and are ready to issue the document by April 3, 2017, meanwhile Tanzania will Tanzania will be ready to issue the East African e-Passport by January 1, 2018.

The e-Passport is expected to boost free movement of people across the East African region and facilitate implementation of the Common Market protocol, which guarantees the right to move between countries in East Africa.

The EAC e-Passport will have diplomatic, service and ordinary categories, different from the current machine readable passports issued by the partner states. It will be valid for up 10 years while the diplomatic passport and service passport will be valid according to the holder’s specific term of the service.

The standard international e-Passport will have a chip that holds the same information as printed on the passport’s data page, the holder’s name, date of birth and other biographic information.

The new EAC travel document be in different colours, EAC diplomats will carry red passport, while officials and ordinary citizens will have green and sky blue, respectively.

The African Union, is also working towards a hybrid travel document that will serve as VISA to all the 55 countries on the continent; abolishing visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries by 2018, in line with the AU Agenda 2063.