The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)’s deadline for validity of handwritten passports which is commonly known among Ghanaians as ‘the old passport’ is November 2015.
Handwritten passports will no longer be valid for travel from November 2015 and as such can be used till after the deadline.
The craze for new passports (biometric) is gradually dawning on Ghanaians as some foreign missions demand that visa applicants using machine readable passports acquire biometric ones before they are granted visas.
These countries have migrated onto the biometric system and prefer the biometric passports to machine readable ones which are currently used by many Ghanaian travellers.
The Director of passports, Alexander Grant Ntrakwa noted that Ghana stopped issuing handwritten passports as far back as 2009, and, therefore, dismissed reports that it was machine readable passports currently used by many Ghanaian travellers that would be phased out.
He told The Finder that the action of the foreign missions do not make the machine readable passports invalid.
According to him, Ghanaians using machine readable passport with valid visa in them can travel to countries whose missions are asking for biometric passports before issuing visas to fresh applicants.
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He explained that persons given notes by foreign missions to secure biometric passports before being granted visas are offered preferential treatment in order for them to get their biometric passport on time.
Ntrakwa revealed that it was for the purpose of standardization and uniformity that Ghanaians are advised to apply for biometric passports to avoid the inconveniences and difficulties of travelling, since many countries were now using that.
The Director of Passports emphasised that encouraging Ghanaians to apply for biometric passports do not make machine readable passports invalid.
He disclosed that over one million biometric passports have so far been issued to Ghanaians out of the 1.5 million booklets ordered, and that only a small number of the books were also not good to be issued.
He however attributed the delay to issuing passports to some applicants on time to problem with capturing of information or the applicant not providing full information.