Nirmala Sitharaman, the Union Finance Minister of India proclaimed in her 92 minutes Budget speech on February 1, that e-passports or digital passports will be introduced in 2022-23 fiscal to improve amenities for citizens.
An e-passport or a digital passport serves the same objective as a standard passport. However, E-passports will use Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) and biometrics to enhance the level of identity verification. The e-passport comes with an electronic microchip that carries the same information including the passport holder’s name, date of birth, and other details like the printed passport, which is a booklet allocated to the citizens.
The chip-enabled e-passports will be issued with advanced security features by the External Affairs Ministry. The personal details of the applicants would be signed digitally and stored in the chip that would be embedded in the booklet of the passport. The system shall be able to identify anyone trying to tamper with the chip, which would result in the failure of passport authentication.
To manufacture e-passports, India Security Press (ISP) awarded the contract for procurement of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)-compliant electronic contactless inlays along with its operating system necessary for chip-enabled e-passports. On successful completion of the procurement process by ISP, the issuance of e-passports will commence.
The e-passport concept is not new to the world as over 120 countries, including the US, UK, and Germany has already adopted the biometric e-passport systems.