Ugandans with traditional passports or Machine-Readable Passports can still use them until April 4th, 2022. The government had issued a notification of a 2-year transition period to phase out the Machine-Readable Passports by January 31st, 2021. However, due to the restrictions that have been brought about by Covid-19, the deadline for phase of Machine-Readable Passports cannot be achieved without inconveniencing the public.
“The Government of the Republic of Uganda wishes to inform all citizens that the Machine-Readable Passports will continue to be used as a valid travel document alongside the new International e-Passport until 4th April 2022,” reads a statement from the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration, signed by Dr. Benon Mutambi; Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The Ministry went a head to calls upon the public to take note of the new deadline. “All citizens who have not yet changed to the new international e-Passport are encouraged to use this window of opportunity to migrate to the new e-Passport to avoid any inconveniences related to the new deadline,” the Ministry writes.
The Government started issuance of the e-Passport to the citizens in December 2018. The transition to e-passports [by that time] was in-line with January 15th, 2021 deadline set by the six-member East African Community (EAC) to phase out traditional passport books.
The Government believes that the transition will fight corruption and unscrupulous middlemen/brokers —as well as ease crowds, and long queues. One of the most important part of all, removes the tedious workload of acquiring signatures from Local Councils. You only need your national ID to acquire the new EAC e-Passport.
In October last year, Jacob Siminyu, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said they have so far given out 300,000 e-Passports and expect the numbers to rise since traveling has formally resumed. While the numbers would have been higher than this, Siminyu noted that set back was the pandemic, Covid-19 which saw many Ugandans halt applying for the e-Passports.
e-Passports are still physical booklets. The difference with the traditional booklets, e-Passports have an embedded electronic microprocessor chip that contains biometric data used to authenticate the identity of the passport holder. They ease clearance at the entry and exit points as well as facilitate the use of e-gates for self clearance, automated issuance of boarding passes, and quicker processing across airports worldwide.
The the EAC e-Passports come in a light-blue color —a color that the EAC felt represents Lake Victoria which is a symbol of unity amongst the countries.
Passport acquisition differs in each East African country. In Uganda, Ordinary, Government Officials, and Diplomats e-Passports are priced at UGX250,000, UGX400,000, and UGX500,000 respectively.
Applying for the e-Passport is done online via the immigration e-portal https://www.passports.go.ug/. We highly recommend you use a PC/Laptop instead of a phone or tablet. When you’re done and your application approved, you will be notified on when and where to collect your passport.
On collecting your passport, even though the process is online, you will need to print the required forms [listed below] to present at the DCIC offices. The forms need to have the applicant’s and the recommender’s signature against their names on the forms.
To forms to carry along are;
- Proof of profession.
- Letter of Recommendation (from your passport recommender).
- Copy of Recommender’s ID.
- National ID (the applicant).
- Copy of payment receipts.
- 2 passport-sized photos.
All these documents have to filed, and not placed in envelopes.