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Barbados to enhance passport security

Edmund Hinkson, minister of home affairs (left) and chief immigration officer, Wayne Marshall (right), showing one of the new e-passports (Image: M Elcock/BGIS)

BARBADOS IS switching to e-passports to ensure greater security, the government has announced.

People who apply for a Barbados passport for the first time or to renew an existing one will from today be issued with an e-passport.

The move from machine-readable passports comes after a recommendation from the International Civil Aviation Authority and efforts to improve security.

Wayne Marshall, the chief immigration officer, said: “It would be more difficult to replace an e-passport because there is a chip in the actual cover. Anyone seeking to replicate the passport would have to remove the chip and ensure that it has the same information as on the biodata page.”

Marshall said that the as the chip concealed in the passport cover would not be easily accessible, replicated or changed, it would bolster the document's protection against fraud.

He said: “It would be more difficult to replace an e-passport because there is a chip in the actual cover. Anyone seeking to replicate the passport would have to remove the chip and ensure that it has the same information as on the biodata page."

E-passports are biometrically enabled travel documents that encase a chip and antenna in the cover.

Barbados is ranked highest for visa free travel out of all of the countries in the Caribbean. Those with a Barbados passport can travel to around 160 countries without the need for additional travel permissions.

Citizens have been reassured that they will not need to apply for the biodata version of the passport until their existing document has expired.

Marshall said: “There is no urgency to get the e-passport versus the machine readable one because it will be used in a similar way. The machine readable passport will be accepted even though the e-passport is in circulation.”

The application process will stay the same as will the length of time – 10 years and five years respectively – that the adult and child version of the passport will be valid for.

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