Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced today that e-passports with embedded chips will be rolled out in India in 2022-2023. Earlier, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, took to Twitter to announce that India would soon get e-passports with secure biometric data. He had mentioned that e-passports would be in accordance with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The e-passports will serve the same purpose as traditional passports but will come with embedded chips and futuristic technology, Sitharaman said during her Budget Speech. The e-passports would contain microchips that would have important security data stored in them. India currently issues only printed passports to users, but e-passports are available in countries including the US, UK, and Germany.
Bhattacharya had previously revealed that the password would contain secure biometric data, it would ensure smooth passage through immigration posts globally, and the e-passport would be ICAO compliant. It will be manufactured at India Security Press, Nashik. The External Affairs minister had also revealed that India is in talks with the ‘India Security Press’ regarding microchips. “We propose to pursue the manufacture of e-passports on priority so that a new passport booklet with advanced security features can be rolled out in the near future,” Jaishanker had said.
An e-passport will have the same functions as a traditional passport but it will be more secure than a traditional passport. That is because the e-passport would contain an electronic chip that will carry the same information as the printed passport.
The microchip would include information such as the passport holder’s name, date of birth, and other details. The e-passport would turn out to b extremely useful for travelers as it would eliminate the need to stand in long queues in front of the immigration counter. The e-passport could be scanned in minutes as opposed to the physical verification at the immigration counter. It will also help curb the fake passport business as the scammers would find it hard to fiddle with the data recorded on the microchip.
The concept of an e-passport has already been introduced in over 120 countries, including the US, UK, and Germany that already has biometric e-passport systems.
The e-passport will house an inlaid chip that will contain all the personal information of the passport holder. The chip which will be placed on the back of the passport will come with 64 kilobytes of storage space and an embedded rectangular antenna. The chip will contain data from up to 30 international trips initially. However, in the later stage, the chip is also expected to store the picture of the passport holder along with biometric data such as fingerprints. If anybody tries to tamper with the chip, it will result in failure of passport authentication, as per reports.