From November 17, Nepal issued e-passports for the very first time. It is to replace machine readable passports which were introduced in 2010 to replace the decades old handwritten passports, as reported by Xinhua News Agency.
The 102-year-old historian Satya Mohan Joshi is the first one to receive the first e-passport by the Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka at the inauguration celebration of e-passport personalization facility at the department in Tripureshwar, Kathmandu, according to the reports of Kathmandu Post.
E-passports to be fully functional by January 2022 in Nepal
According to a press release, the department plans on issuing e-passports fully within the next three weeks. The District Administration Offices and other offices who are authorised to issue passports in different parts of the country will start issuing e-passports by December. Nepali diplomatic missions abroad will start issuing in January, 2022.
Sharad Raj Aran, spokesman for the Department of Passport, told Xinhua, “Only limited e-passports will be issued for a few days as the system is still in the testing phase”. He further said that until the essential infrastructure of e-passports is in place, the departments will continue to issue machine readable passports.
Passports will be in new shades
According to the department as reported by Kathmandu Post, the new biometric passports will be in new shades.
The cover of the passport will be now chocolate-brown which was earlier green in colour. Crimson-red cover for diplomatic passports, navy-blue for official passports, and tiger-orange for the peacekeepers’ passports.
Moreover, temporary passports will be chocolate-brown, seaman’s record books will be slate-brown and travel documents will be in black. A hot foil stamp of the national coat-of-arms is required on the front page of all passport booklets.
Nepal Passport ranking
Nepal switched from decades-old handwritten passports to machine-readable passports in 2010, and 11 years later, Nepal will issue the second-generation e-passports, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s guidelines, giving the country a competitive advantage, officials said.
According to the most recent Henley Passport Index, Nepali passports are among the world’s weakest, ranking 110th with Palestine.
Dornath Aryal, director general of the Department of Passports, said “With the issuance of the new passports, definitely Nepal’s status will leapfrog.” He further added, “We are going to issue one of the best passports in Asia in terms of security, design and other features.”
One joint secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “It is not due to quality of the passports that Nepal has been ranked lower”. It is due to the country’s poor economic status, weak immigration system, conflict, and Nepalis overstaying their visas abroad, among other things,” he further added.
According to the joint secretary the new passport is going to be one of the best, reliable, secure and hassle free for travellers, but its ranking has more to do with politics.