Kenyans get 12 more months to acquire biometric passports

Kenyans with old passports have until February next year to acquire the new digital ones after the government extended the deadline by 12 months.

Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i that the extension was occasioned by the 1.8 million Kenyans mostly living abroad who are yet to replace their passports with the new East African Community biometric passport.

Digital passports were launched in 2017 as part of the country's commitment to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards. The e-passports have more security features than the previous one.

Those who will not have acquired the new passport will be barred from travelling effective March 1, 2021.

“The government hereby extends the deadline for voiding the current dark blue machine-readable passport by 12 months. As such, its holders may continue using it until March 1, 2021 when it will no longer be valid for travelling,” Mr Matiang’i said on Monday morning.

This is the second time that the government has extended the period for acquisition of the e-passports with the state setting up more centres in the country --Nakuru, Kisii, Eldoret and Embu-- as well as abroad.

To serve the diaspora communities, the Immigration department opened passport centres in Berlin (Germany), Johannesburg in South Africa, London in the UK, Paris in France, Dubai in UAE, Washington DC in the US and Beijing, China.

The new e-passports conform to international passport security standards set by the ICAO that require they have a tamper-proof electronic chip with a holder’s information and travel history.

The initial deadline had been set for August 31, 2019 but was extended to March 1, 2020.