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E-passports for Vietnamese citizens expected by 2020: public security ministry

Update: December, 12/2018 - 20:00
Vietnamese migrant workers in Nghệ An Province flocked to immigration offices to get the necessary authentication to return to work in their host countries after the 2018 Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday. E-passports are expected to make the process less time consuming and more convenient. — VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese citizens are set to enjoy faster, more convenient and more secure border crossings with new biometric passports to be rolled out by 2020.

The new system is detailed in the draft law on the entry and exit of Vietnamese citizens that the public security ministry completed earlier this week. The ministry is seeking public feedback.

Article 7 of the draft law says  new biometric passports (or e-passports) – including official, diplomatic and ordinary passports – will be embedded with a microchip that stores the holder’s personal information, fingerprint scans, ID photo and a digital signature from the issuing agency.

E-passports are supposedly much more secure and harder to forge compared to their conventional counterparts, and the microchip would be compatible with e-passport readers in most countries around the world.

More than 15 countries had already migrated to this new type of passport by the middle of 2018.

The number of Vietnamese travelling overseas for study, work or tourism has increased steadily in recent times, from 6.1 million in 2013 to 7.7 million in 2016 and 9.2 million in 2017.

Applicants will just need to fill out forms to get a new e-passport, either online or at the police’s municipal and provincial immigration offices.

The public security ministry said that while the Government previously approved the project to produce and issue e-passports to Vietnamese citizens, the bill was necessary because there was no legal document regulating the process.

The bill, with 39 articles arranged into seven chapters, will take effect in July 2020 if the National Assembly chooses to adopt it.

The draft law also seeks to replace the current travel document (giấy thông hành) with temporary passports, which would expire after one year and serve the same purpose as ordinary passports. They would be used when a Vietnamese citizen wants to travel to a foreign country while their passport is lost or expired, or else leaves a foreign country (either voluntarily or forcibly) when the host country does not allow residency.

The issuance of temporary passports is proof of the Government of Việt Nam’s focus on protecting its citizens in that event that the requirements for a long-term passport cannot be met, the draft law said.

Representative offices of the Việt Nam Government in foreign countries will issue the temporary passports in consultation with the immigration department of the public security ministry.

Travel documents, valid for one year, could still be issued for Vietnamese citizens who want to travel to countries sharing a border with Việt Nam or to any country involved in an international agreement to which Việt Nam is a party.

Anyone who wishes to send their ideas and feedback on the draft law should log on to this site hosted by the Government’s Portal. — VNS

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