The Kenyan government on Thursday extended the deadline for replacing the old passport with the biometric version unveiled in August 2017 to December 31, 2021.
In a statement, the interior ministry said the move is meant to cover the time lost since since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which triggered the scaling down of production.
The Directorate of Immigration Services had scaled down its operations since March in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this is the last extension, and Kenyans are advised to make the necessary arrangements and acquire the electronic passports at the earliest opportunity possible to avoid travelling inconveniences,” the ministry said in a statement.
“For the avoidance of doubt, starting 1st January 2022, the old dark blue passport will be null and void and NO Kenyan will be able to travel internationally without a valid East African Community biometric e-passport.”
Kenyans have been urged to make the necessary arrangements and acquire the electronic passports at the earliest opportunity possible to avoid travelling inconveniences.
The ministry said the old dark blue passport will be null and void from January 1 2020, saying no Kenyan will be able to travel internationally without a valid East African Community e-passport.
This is the second time the government is extending the exercise, which was to end in March.
The synchronization of East Africa’s passports is among measures meant to enhance trade and tourism among the countries within the bloc.
It will also promote the passport’s competitiveness at the global stage.
The standard international e-Passport has a chip that holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page; the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information.
It also contains a biometric identifier.
Further, it has a digital photograph of the holder and security features to prevent unauthorized reading or “scanning” of data stored.
The new EAC travel document comes in red, green and sky blue —the colours of the EAC flag — but with text and national emblems, in gold to complete its face.
The colour of the passport depends on categories. EAC diplomats will carry a passport that is red in colour, green for officials and sky blue for ordinary passport holders.
According to the government, more than 2 million Kenyans are yet to replace their old passports.