Bangladesh entered the e-Passport era as the first country in South Asia with the formal opening of the electronic passport services on Wednesday morning.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the e-Passport services and automated border control management at a programme at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the city.
At the function, she received her e-Passport. Home Minister Asaduzzman Khan handed over the passport to her.
The e-Passport is now initially being issued from three offices – Uttara, Jatrabari and Agargaon –of the Department of Immigration and Passports in Dhaka. These offices have the capacity to issue 25,000 passports a day.
Gradually, e-Passports services will be introduced in 69 passport offices across the country and some 75 Bangladesh missions in phases. The services will be available in other parts of the country within 2020.
The latest move will increase the acceptability of Bangladeshi passports across the world. The electronic passport with the high-security feature will also ease visit and immigration process globally.
Bangladesh is the first country in South Asia and 119th in the world to introduce e-Passports.
The e-Passport and automated border control management project is being implemented by the DIP and German company Veridos GmbH with assistance from the Bangladesh Army under the Security Services Division of the Home Ministry.
The validity of e-Passport will be five years and 10 years.
The fee for a 48-page and five-year validity passport is Tk 3,500 for a normal application, Tk 5,500 for urgent and Tk 7,500 for very urgent application. The fee for 10-year validity passport is Tk 5,000 for normal, Tk 7,000 for urgent and Tk 9,000 for very urgent application.
Besides, the fee for 68-page and five-year validity passport is Tk 5,500 for a normal application, Tk 7,500 for urgent and Tk 10,500 for very urgent. But for a passport with 10-year validity, the fee is Tk 7,000 for normal, Tk 9,000 for urgent and Tk 12,000 for very urgent application.
Besides, separate fees have been fixed for general applicants, workers and students living abroad.
Meanwhile, an applicant abroad will have to pay US$100 and US$150 for a 48-page passport with five-year validity under normal category and urgent category respectively. In the case of 10-year validity, the fees would be $125 and $175.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), over 490 million e-Passports are in circulation.
The e-Passports add a layer of security to traditional non-electronic passports by embedding an electronic chip in the passport booklet that stores the biographical information visible on page 2 of the passport, as well as a digital security feature.
The project 'Introduction of Bangladesh e-Passport and Automated Border Control Management' is being implemented at a cost of Tk 4,569 crore.
A total of 30 million e-Passports will be delivered in 10 years under the project.
With the issuance of the e-Passport the whole process of the immigration formalities will be completed through online.
The DIP and Germany Veridos signed an agreement on July 19, 2018 for issuance of electronic passports alongside machine-readable ones.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Security Services Division Secretary Md. Shahiduzzaman and German Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Fahrenholtz also spoke at the opening ceremony of e-Passport.
DIP Director General Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed delivered the welcome speech, while e-Passport Project Director Brig Gen Saidur Rahman Khan made a presentation over the e-Passport services.