In her Budget speech on Tuesday, 1 February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government would roll out e-passports in FY22-23 for the convenience of citizens.
"The issuance of e-passports will be rolled out in 2022-23 to enhance convenience for citizens," Sitharaman said, as part of her Budget speech.
How exactly do e-passports work? How are they different from traditional paper passports?
How is an e-passport different?
An e-passport will look like a regular passport, but will have an electronic chip in the jacket of the passport, similar to what you may see in your driving licence or debit card.
A traditional paper passport contains all your personal information, like your full name, date of birth, address, parents' names, and place of birth. In an e-passport, this information is expected to be stored in the microchip.
At present, the passport you have is a machine readable one, with a machine reading the code at the bottom half of the page. With an e-passport, the immigration officer will only be required to scan the chip to gain access to your information.
This will ease the immigration process and verify your details quicker, thereby reducing congestion at immigration lines and circulation of fake passports.
What kind of data will be stored on e-passports?
Biometric data is defined as unique data points pertaining to your body, such as your eyes, face, fingerprints or any other identifying feature, like a scar.
In e-passports, your fingerprint data will be stored in the microchip, reported The Times of India. This will ease the immigration process further by identifying you faster.
What is the process of getting an e-passport?
According to a The Times of India report, the procedure to acquire an e-passport, when they are available, will remain the same as that of a new passport.
What has the MEA said?
The announcement comes weeks after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) sealed a deal with Tata Consultancy Services for the Passport Seva Programme V2.0.
"Security aspects, including strategic assets such as Data Centres, and the Application Software, will be owned by the government. There would be strict access controls across the system, incorporating biometrics," the MEA noted.
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