Rayburn Blackmore
Rayburn Blackmore

Anyone who intends to renew or obtain a new passport from July 19, 2021, can look forward to an upgrade, as the Government will be rolling out a new biometric passport.

To advance its steps into the digital era, the Government of Dominica has phased out the machine-readable passports in favour of the biometric passport (also known as an e-passport, or a digital passport) which is said will enhance the country's border security features.

Dominica's biometric passport will store the holder's personal information on a microchip embedded in the document. That includes biometric face, fingerprint, and iris data, all of which can be used to verify the holder's identity while traveling.

The passport's critical information is printed on the data page of the passport, repeated on the machine-readable lines, and stored in the chip. Public key infrastructure (PKI) is used to authenticate the data stored electronically in the passport chip, making it expensive and difficult to forge when all security mechanisms are fully and correctly implemented.

Holders of Dominica's biometric passport can also use the ePassport gates at border control for faster entry into their destination.

While speaking about the matter last year, the Minister for National Security and Home Affairs, Rayburn Blackmore said this initiative would enhance the country's border security features, create a watch list for persons of interest, and keep officers apprised of information on passengers and cargo entering the country.

While biometric passports are still relatively rare in the Caribbean, they have become increasingly common in other parts of the world. Many countries are moving towards issuing biometric passports to their citizens. Malaysia was the first country to issue biometric passports in 1998. In December 2008, 60 countries were issuing such passports, which increased to 120 by June 2017.

The Minister noted back then that this "hi-tech upgrade" will undoubtedly brighten the country's image further in the digital world.