The government has ordered all civil servants to acquire the e-passports within six months failure to which they will not be cleared to travel.
In a directive by Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua, the officers have been given until March 1, 2019 to replace old machine readable passports and move to the e-passports.
Kinyua announced that the state has set up six centers in the country and six others in the diaspora to facilitate the exercise.
“To foster migration to the e-passport by all public servants well ahead of the August 31, 2019 deadline, with effect from February 28, 2019 travel clearances for international travel by public servants, whether official or personal will only be granted where the applicant possesses a Kenyan e-passport,” said Kinyua in his circular.
Kinyua added that the new document is highly secure and difficult to forge as it is enhanced with automated fingerprint verification system that guards against multiple passport issuance to the same person minimising identity theft, data skimming and forgery.
The e-passport will assist Kenyans in easing travel, especially through use of automated border clearances or e-gates, automated issuance of the boarding passes and faster travel arrangements with airlines and immigration checks worldwide
The circular dated September 26, 2018 and copied to all Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries, warns that officials who do not possess the new look document by the March deadline will be ineligible for a grant of travel clearance.
The local stations include Nairobi, Nakuru, Embu, Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisii while Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, Pretoria and Dubai will serve those in the diaspora.
Most of the civil servants have also been spared the hustle of long queues usually witnessed at the immigration offices.
“An e-passport migration desk dedicated to process applications by the public officials in Job-Group Q and above has been opened at Nyayo House, Nairobi. The desk shall cease operations on February 15 next year.”
The immigration department has at the same time received funding to help it in digitising its services.
The process of digitising the services is set to begin in December.
The new passport bear the words ‘East African Community’ as well as ‘Kenya’ in line with the drive for regional integration.
The A series, B series, C series and diplomatic passports will cost Sh4,550, Sh6,050, Sh7,550 and Sh7,550, respectively and payments will be made via mobile phone or credit cards.
To get the e-passport, applicants will be required to apply for a replacement passport and return their current ones and will appear in the offices of stations mentioned for photographing and finger prints.
The e-passport will have an electronic chip holding the same information as the old version, alongside a biometric identifier, digital photograph of the holder and security features to prevent unauthorised use and forgery.
Kenya becomes the second country after Burundi in the region to issue e-passports to its citizens.