Back in February this year, the Union Government had announced that it will be rolling out e-passports to the citizens of India. According to latest reports, the government plans to issue e-passports in 2022-23.
The Union Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs V Muraleedharan revealed the timeline for the launch of e-passports during a Rajya Sabha session on Thursday. The MoS shared that it will be a combined paper and electronic passport. Moreover, it will have a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip as well as an antenna embedded as an inlay in the back cover of the passport.
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Additionally, important passport details will be printed on the page and also stored in the chip.
The passport’s critical information will be printed on its data page as well as stored in the chip. The characteristics of the document and the chip are specified in International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) document 9303.
The MoS adds that the National Informatics Centre (NIC) will be responsible for the technical aspects pertaining to the issuing of e-passports. The India Security Press, which is located in Nashik, will be entrusted with the production. “The e-passports will be produced by the India Security Press, Nashik, which has issued letters of intent for the procurement of 4.5 crore ICAO-compliant electronic chips along with its operating system”, said Muraleedharan.
The e-passport will reportedly comprise multiple levels of security and a digital signature, which will be sent to other governments for verification. Additionally, it will include digital keys to verify the passport at different stages—when the chip is manufactured, inlay is set, the passport office is loading data, the embassy is loading the data, and finally, when the passport is made.
According to the minister, sample e-passports are currently being tested. Once the technical eco-system and infrastructure are fully established, full-scale manufacture will be initiated. Finally, this will be followed by the issuance of e-passports.