KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Wednesday March 5, 2014, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines has launched its e-passport, saying the document is even more secure than the machine-readable passport launched in 2005.
“The e-passport has a lot of enhanced security features — tamper-proof, with a chip embedded in the page, storing data. And in these ways and others, we are keeping ahead of the criminal elements who want to abuse our passports,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said at the launch on Tuesday.
Gonsalves, who, as Minister of National Security, is responsible for immigration matters, said that when the island introduced its machine-readable passport in 2005, it was 10 years ahead of internationally agreed deadline.
“And now, we are going beyond the machine-readable passport to go and tighten the security further,” he said, noting that St. Vincent and the Grenadines was the second country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), after St. Kitts and Nevis, to introduce the e-passport.
He said the issuance of the e-passport is in keeping with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) security resolution 1624 of 2005, which, he said, sought to enhance the security of the country’s travel documents.
“We, as citizens of this country, we should be very proud of this achievement, that we have the additional assurance that we have a very secure travel document online with the highest international standard established by the International Civil Aviation Organization. That’s what we are doing here today. That’s what we did in 2005 and we are lifting the game even higher,” Gonsalves told a gathering of high-ranking state officials.
Gonsalves said that since St. Vincent and the Grenadines switched to machine-readable passports in 2005, there have been no reports of tampering with the document.
“And the issuance of our e-passport will make it even more challenging for those elements, including criminal elements, who want to breach the security of our passport,” he said, noting however that all over the world there is occasionally “somebody getting away with a source document — some fraud.
“What we have to do is to have zero tolerance for that and try to keep the number to zero. But because you may find occasionally a case, that doesn’t invalidate the safety and security of the system as a whole,” Gonsalves said.
The passport will be valid for 10 years for people older than 18 years, and will cost EC$150 (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents).
The government said that it had a three-year US$3.4 million contract with Canadian Bank Note to produce the e-passport.