Tue, Dec 30, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Government begins issuing new ROC e-passports

CHIPPING AWAY The Bureau of Consular Affairs said the new passports would help the nation’s chances of being included in other countries’ visa-waiver programs

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou, left, looks on as a child processes his new e-passport, which contains an electronic chip, at the Bureau of Consular Affairs office in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: WANG MIN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Effective immediately, all new passports issued will contain an electronic chip containing information on the holder, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, making Taiwan the 60th nation in the world to use e-passports.

All old passports will still be valid until their expiration date, the ministry said.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) said the new radio frequency identification technology would make Republic of China (ROC) passports harder to counterfeit and would help the nation’s chances of being included in other nations’ visa-waiver programs. The cost of the new e-passport will remain NT$1,200 (US$40). The cost is expected to remain static until 2010, when it is expected to be increased by NT$400.

The cover of the e-passport shows the logo for the electronic chip and follows the standards laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organization, BOCA Chief Lo Yu-chung (羅由中) said, despite the fact that Taiwan is not a member of the global body.

The chip is imbedded inside the back cover.

“I am very happy to have the new passport. E-passports are a global trend and it shows Taiwan’s commitment to global security. I don’t think there are any privacy issues,” said a man surnamed Chen, whose 19-month-old son was one of the first recipients of the new travel document.

Chen said a family vacation to Bali, Indonesia, next year would be the first time the new passport was used.

BOCA also announced a new emergency contact center and hotline to help solve urgent issues experienced by Taiwanese nationals while overseas. The toll free number is 0800-085-095 if calling from within Taiwan.

Citizens traveling abroad can seek assistance from the nearest ROC embassy or representative office by calling the 24-hour toll free number 0800-0885-0885, but that number is only available in 22 countries. Citizens in other countries requiring assistance can all 886-800-085-095 for a fee.

For further information, please go to www.boca.gov.tw.

US State Department regulations state that candidate countries for its visa-waiver program must issue a machine-readable passport. Furthermore, all passports issued or renewed after Oct. 26, 2006, must have an integrated chip.

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