Saudi Arabia to introduce e-passport soon: How it will be used?

Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will soon introduce a chip-based electronic passport replacing the current passport with a machine-readable passport with additional security features, local media from the gulf country reported.

Prince Bandar Bin Abdullah Al Mashari, assistant minister of interior for technical affairs has revealed the development of the new service, saying that the addition of Saudi passports would soon be replaced with a machine-readable passport (MRP) and National IDs can be renewed from anywhere in the world.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to the Saudi pavilion participating in GITEX Technology Week 2021 at the Dubai World Trade Center, Prince Bandar said that the new electronic passport service will be launched within the next few months.

According to Arabic daily Al-Arabiya, Prince Bandar said that all government agencies that grant visas allowed the registration of biometrics and fingerprints when issuing digital visas without the need to visit embassies.

“The service will be available to everyone according to a timetable to be agreed upon between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all government agencies concerned with each type of visas,” he said.

Travellers will no longer need to wait in lines at immigration offices. The new electronic passport can be scanned within a few minutes. However, the electronic passport will be a little heavier and thicker than the regular passport we use.

What is an electronic passport?

An electronic passport, also known as biometrics or digital passport, contains an embedded electronic processor chip that contains the applicant’s biometric information that can be used to authenticate the identity of the passport holder.

  • A chip embedded to it, the electronic passport will ensure the security of the passport holder’s data.
  • The chip in the electronic passport adds advanced security features to it. With security features, if anyone tries to tamper with the chip, the system will be able to detect it.
  • The electronic passport cannot be tampered with and misuse of the passport will be prevented.
  • Electronic passports will contain all the applicants’ personal details, stored digitally and signed on the chip.
  • Also, access to information is protected in such a way that the chip cannot be read without physical possession of the passport.
  • The memory of the said chip is 64KB, while information about 30 international movements and visits can be stored in it.
  • Another advantage of an electronic passport is that it can be read in just a few seconds, which saves time.