Gov’t explains rationale behind recall of machine-readable passports

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As members of the public question the sudden announcement of a deadline for the recall of machine-readable passports, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has given more details behind the sudden acceleration of plans.

On Wednesday, the government issued a press statement, announcing the recall of all Machine-Readable Passports of Antigua and Barbuda from June 1, 2019.

Machine-Readable passports will become invalid on December 31,2019 and only e-passports will be valid for travel as of January 1, 2020.

However, members of the public, including Opposition Senator and member of the United Progressive Party, Damani Tabor have asked for the reason for the accelerated move.

Information Minister, Melford Nicholas has since provided clarity as to the rationale behind the recall, stating that it was to improve national security.

“This has come about as a requirement for us to improve the overall security of the passport system,” he said, adding that, “having two systems running in parallel and having regard to the enhanced security of the e-passport, the advice we are under is that we should accelerate the process.”

The Information Minister said the e-passports have certain security features to protect the identities of Antiguans and Barbudans and, having received a tour of the facility of the Canadian Bank Note Company, who is the service provider for the e-passports, he was satisfied that the e-passport would be as “robust and secure as any other passport issu­ed by any other country.”

Nicholas also addressed the concern of people with Canadian visas, stating that the Immigration Minister, Paul Chet Greene, would have discussions with Canadian authorities on the matter.

He said Minister Greene“ has already engaged our consular office in Toronto to try to get some absolute clarity on the matter whether or not, as has been the custom with the United States, whenever you have a change of passport and the visa is printed in the older passport, you can carry the old passport and still gain entry.”

E-passport application forms are available at the Passport Office on Queen Elizabeth Highway; the Antigua and Barbuda Missions in the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom; or from the government’s website at www.ab.gov.ag.

More information is available from the Passport Office in Antigua and Barbuda via telephone at 462-0092.

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