Honolulu- The Philippine Consulate in Honolulu announced recently that it will begin implementing the new ePassport system effective July I, 2010 to replace the two –year Machine Readable Passport (MRP) system which was implemented in June 2008.
The ePassport, the latest technology in travel documents, contains an integrated chip, which stores all personal information of the bearer in accordance with specifications of the International Civil Aviations Organization (ICAO), increasing the integrity and security of the Philippine passport.
All Filipino citizens applying for passports in Honolulu, Hawaii will no longer need to submit photographs, as their pictures, their fingerprints, and their signatures, will be taken on-site. This means that all passport applicants, regardless of age, are henceforth required to appear personally at the Philippine Consulate in Honolulu.
The new ePassport costs $60 and is valid for 5 years from the date of its issuance. Processing time remains at 4 to 6 weeks. Fee for the replacement of a lost ePassport is $150.
Below are the frequently asked questions on the ePassport:
What advantages does the Philippine ePassport offer?
The ePassport is highly secure. Hence, it avoids passport reproduction and tampering. Its database is enhanced with Automated Fingerprint Verification System (AFIS) that guard against multiple passport issuances to the same person and enhances imposter detection thus facilitating clearance of travelers at immigration checks.
ePassports provide travelers benefits such as use of automated border clearance or “E-gates”, automated issuance of boarding passes, and faster travel arrangements with airlines.
For countries, the use of electronic passport also provides better border protection and security.
Why do we have to use ePassports now?
The Machine Readable Passport (MRP) has the minimum standards of the International Civil Aviations Organization (ICAO) in travel documents while the ePassport is the world standard in travel documents. As member of ICAO, the Philippines have an international obligation to enhance the security of its travel documents.
The issuance of ePassports will allow the Philippines to offer world-class consular services to its nationals.
Countries have greater confidence and acceptance of the ePassport since it is enhanced with biometric technology.
Why is the ePassport more expensive than the current passport?
The added security features of the ePassport are factored into the production cost. Comparative prices of ePassports from different countries, however, show that the cost of the Philippine ePassport is among the lowest in the world.
What other countries use ePassports?
ePassports are now being used in more than 60 countries worldwide including the United States and six (6) ASEAN countries namely: Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
I have a previously issued passport. Can I use it for travel as long as it is still valid?
Yes. Previously issued passports, MRP (maroon cover) and non-MRP (green cover) are valid until their expiration. It is a good practice to make sure your passport is valid at least six months before intended date of travel to avoid any inconvenience.
Will there be additional requirements needed for the processing of ePassports?
None. Essentially, the requirements for ePassports processing will remain the same as that for the MRP. Personal appearance is required for taking of biometrics (i.e., fingerprints, photo, and signature).