Government to start offering e-Passports in the coming months

As of July 2018, Grenada will be officially rolling out its e-Passport to put the country on par with the rest of the region and making the Machine Readable Passport that has been in use since 2001 a thing of the past.

Head of Immigration Department, Supt Esau Pierre and Inspector Leroy Joseph briefed the media on the e-Passport initiative

An e-passport is an enhanced secured passport with an embedded electronic chip.

Two representatives from the Immigration Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), Head of the department, Superintendent Esau Pierre and Inspector Leroy Joseph met with reporters last week Tuesday at the post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex to give an insight into the roll out of the e-Passport.

The Immigration officers stressed that it has become necessary for the country to move in this direction as an upgraded security measure.

According to Insp. Joseph the security feature of the passport is designed “to increase our security features and security at the border, making it more difficult to change data recording on a passport and therefore, eliminating some of the fraud which may appear on a passport”.

“It has become very necessary for Grenada to make this transition from the Machine Readable Passport to an upgrade of e-Passport…”, he said.

“It is a more secured document for Grenada. We know that passports can be counterfeited easily throughout the world … and we have to guard against that. So, moving into our e-Passport regime, it will guard (us) from being compromised,” he added.

The Immigration officers announced that the e-passport will cost Grenadians $175 which is $50 more than what is currently being charged for the Machine Readable Passport and the pages of the new passport will increase from 32 to 36.

According to the officers, this price is a government subsidised cost price since the real figure will be around $375.00 for the new e-passport.

Insp Joseph told reporters that the new e-Passport will come with many benefits for passports bearers especially with the use of the Kiosk now installed at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MNIA) at Point Salines.

He also said that persons seeking to obtain the new passport are no longer required to visit a photo studio to take out passport-sized photos anymore.

“Persons can walk into the Passport office and take live photo with no charge. So, instead of going to a photo studio, you can come to the Passport office, capture your image and it will be captured also on your passport,” he remarked.

According to Insp. Joseph, the brother of Trade, Industry and Caricom Affairs Minister, Oliver Joseph, there will be “greater possibility” for the new passport holders when interfacing at the borders.

He said: “When they come in at the airport, for example, Maurice Bishop International Airport (MNIB) and be using the Kiosk, many of you will use the Kiosk at the airport without interfacing with an Immigration officer. You swipe in your passport, easy access, seamless travel and you go straight to Customs. In the same breath, when you travel with your e-Passport, you will interface with Kiosk at the other borders and it will be ease of travel for you also by using that e-Passport.”

Supt Pierre told reporters that there is one additional feature with the use of the e-passport for persons who may have physical difficulties in getting their picture taken.

“… We will also have accommodation for persons in Wheel Chairs for the capturing of their photos…if they are challenged in other areas in capturing their photos, they can come to the main office and that will be taken care of:”, he said.

The Immigration Chief disclosed that persons with Machine Readable Passports with expiration date due in the coming years can continue to use them even while the e-Passport is in effect.

He said, “Previously we issued Hand Written Passports that have already run its track – it is no longer being accepted as a travel document, a requirement by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Then, we moved into the Machine Readable Passport, which we are using currently. These passports have initially a 10 year option – the 10 year option will end in 2021 for the most. The present passport will run its course and the expiration of most of these passports will be 2023.”

Supt Pierre announced that by 2023 all passports issued by the passport office in Grenada would be the Machine Readable e-Passport.

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