The machine-readable Ghana passports remain valid and will run concurrently with the biometric passports until November 2015 when they would be phased out, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Friday.
The Passport Office has therefore been issuing the biometric passports alongside the machine-readable passports to Ghanaians in and outside the country whose applications were in the system before the launch of the biometric passport.
A statement from the Ministry said prior to the launch of the biometric passport on March 23, 2010, there were hundreds of applications for machine-readable passports pending at the Passport Office.
This backlog of applications had been received from the general public and Ghana Diplomatic Missions abroad on behalf of citizens resident in various parts of the world.
The Passport Office said it was therefore processing “outstanding applications for machine-readable passports that had already been paid for”.
“For obvious reasons, the Ministry did not wish to burden those applicants to reapply by purchasing new forms.”
The statement said the Passport Office had in place “a rigorous system” by which applications were subjected to several checks and vetting by security officials before passports were issued.
It said since the biometric system came into operation, the Passport Office had as at September 27, issued a total of 33,949 ordinary biometric passports and generated “considerable revenue” for government. Of this number, 17,671 were processed as express applications.
The Ministry said it recognised that the implementation of the Biometric Passport System was still faced with some challenges, notably the large number of applicants who converged at the two Data Capturing Centres in Accra to present their applications.
It said “serious efforts” were, therefore, being made to operationalise the Passport Application Centres in the various regional capitals to minimise the inconveniences experienced by applicants.