The Ghana biometric passport: Matters arising

Uncertainty appears to surround the actual day when the first Ghanaian biometric passport will be issued. But it is certain that by the new global rules regarding types of passports that countries should have, Ghana will introduce its biometric passport this year.

A Ghanaian Times report cited the acting Director, Legal and Consular Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, McArios Akanbeanab Akanbong as saying in May 2009 that Ghana was going to issue its citizens with biometric passports in 2010.

The issuance of the passport is a requirement for the country to meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) deadline for member states to provide their nationals with such a document to avoid being denied entry into member countries of ICAO.

According to the report, Mr. Akanbong indicated that without a biometric passport, Ghanaians travelling outside risked being denied entry as their data would not be at the Biometric Centre for immigration officers at international airports to crosscheck their details.

A biometric passport has features like electronic chip into which has been processed, the thumbprint of holders and kept at a biometric centre. It has a holographic foil, watermark paper, invisible and visible foil and digital photographs of holders are used.

In January 2010, the GNA reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will launch the country’s biometric passport on February 3, 2010. The report said in preparation to the launch, Regional Immigration Commanders and Information Service Officers were trained.

The biometric passport is expected to have some benefits to the country. According to Mr Akanbong, these would include elimination of middlemen in the application and acquisition of passports and the avoidance of situations where individuals manipulate the system and acquire multi-passports.

“No middleman can acquire a biometric passport for anyone because with this system, the applicant has to be available for his or her thumbprint to be taken for data and identification purposes before the passport is issued,” he said.

But just when Ghanaians were psyched up for the biometric passport, a Daily Graphic reports put a spanner in the works. The issuance of the biometric passport has been put on hold.

The Daily Graphic reports says the Passports Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration says its plan to begin the issuance of biometric passports to Ghanaians has been put on hold until the heavy backlog of passports applications currently at the office has been cleared.

It has, therefore, set March 23, 2010, as the new date to begin the sale of new forms for the biometric passports.

The period will also be used to replace all hand-written passports being held by Ghanaians abroad with appropriate booklets, the report added.

But while all these were going on, Ghanaians were told not to panic. A Ghanaian Times report citing Madam Bernice Benneh, the Director of Passports said there is no need to panic because “there will be a five-year interface period for the current passports to be phased out.”

She reportedly assured Ghanaian travelers that they will not encounter any difficulties with the introduction of the biometric passports as passports currently in circulation will remain valid until 2015.

Meanwhile, passport forms are unavailable at designated points. The designated points for acquiring passport forms are the post offices and all branches of Ecobank, but forms are unavailable. This development has left many Ghanaians whose passports are expired or are expiring this month in limbo as they have no information on what to do.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Email: edogbevi@hotmail.com

What you need to know about the Ghana biometric passport
Uncertainty appears to surround the actual day when the first Ghanaian biometric passport will be issued. But it is certain that by the new global rules regarding types of passports that countries should have, Ghana will introduce its biometric passport this year.
A Ghanaian Times report cited the acting Director, Legal and Consular Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, McArios Akanbeanab Akanbong as saying in May 2009 that Ghana was going to issue its citizens with biometric passports in 2010.
The issuance of the passport is a requirement for the country to meet the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) deadline for member states to provide their nationals with such a document to avoid being denied entry into member countries of ICAO.
According to the report, Mr. Akanbong indicated that without a biometric passport, Ghanaians travelling outside risked being denied entry as their data would not be at the Biometric Centre for immigration officers at international airports to crosscheck their details.
A biometric passport has features like electronic chip into which has been processed, the thumbprint of holders and kept at a biometric centre. It has a holographic foil, watermark paper, invisible and visible foil and digital photographs of holders are used.
In January 2010, the GNA reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will launch the country’s biometric passport on February 3, 2010. The report said in preparation to the launch, Regional Immigration Commanders and Information Service Officers were trained.
The biometric passport is expected to have some benefits to the country. According to Mr Akanbong, these would include elimination of middlemen in the application and acquisition of passports and the avoidance of situations where individuals manipulate the system and acquire multi-passports.
“No middleman can acquire a biometric passport for anyone because with this system, the applicant has to be available for his or her thumbprint to be taken for data and identification purposes before the passport is issued,” he said.
But just when Ghanaians were psyched up for the biometric passport, a Daily Graphic reports put a spanner in the works. The issuance of the biometric passport has been put on hold.
The Daily Graphic reports says the Passports Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration says its plan to begin the issuance of biometric passports to Ghanaians has been put on hold until the heavy backlog of passports applications currently at the office has been cleared.
It has, therefore, set March 23, 2010, as the new date to begin the sale of new forms for the biometric passports.
The period will also be used to replace all hand-written passports being held by Ghanaians abroad with appropriate booklets, the report added.
But while all these were going on, Ghanaians were told not to panic. A Ghanaian Times report citing Madam Bernice Benneh, the Director of Passports said there is no need to panic because “there will be a five-year interface period for the current passports to be phased out.”
She reportedly assured Ghanaian travelers that they will not encounter any difficulties with the introduction of the biometric passports as passports currently in circulation will remain valid until 2015.
Meanwhile, passport forms are unavailable at designated points. The designated points for acquiring passport forms are the post offices and all branches of Ecobank, but forms are unavailable. This development has left many Ghanaians whose passports are expired or are expiring this month in limbo as they have no information on what to do.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

No Comments
  1. ade giwah says

    Dear sir,
    am willing to apply for a Ghanaian international biometric passport and i will like to know what are my requirement, Thanks
    i will be looking forward to be enlightened more.

  2. Emmanuel Tetteh says

    I have an old passport which will expire by 24th April 2010
    Do I need to produce birth/baptismal certificate/National Id etc
    when coming for the Biometric Passport?

    Hope to hear from you

  3. Emmanuel Tetteh says

    I am willing to apply for a Ghanaian international biometric passport and i will like to know what are my requirement, Thanks
    i will be looking forward to be enlightened more

  4. Augustine Andoh says

    I found your website when doing a search on credit and debit cards. I was really impressed by your interactive web content. Your site has a lot of education, information and entertainment.

  5. Eric K. Ofori says

    I would like to know the requirement for the biometric passport and the schedules for Western and Brong Ahafo Regions

    Thank you

  6. Adams Nuhu says

    what will be the major requirements before applying for the passport and how long will it take to have the passport and what will be the schedules for Ashanti region

  7. Loretta Kuma says

    I once called your office to know details about the attainmemt of the biometric pasport but it seems the receipient was not getting me right.Sir, i would be very grateful if you can throw more light on it for me.{I was born in the eastern region]
    Counting on your usual co-operation.

  8. christian ofei gyadu says

    do i have to change my old passport before travelling? if yes , how do i change my old passport into a biometric one. please i want it urgently. have a nice day

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