President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed that Kenyans in diaspora be issued with new generation passports in their countries of residence.
Mr Kenyatta, who is on a state visit in Namibia, issued the order to the immigration department and the Foreign Affairs ministry on Thursday when he met Kenyans living and working in the southern African nation.
He said he saw no reason why Kenyans living outside the country should incur huge financial costs to travel back home to Nairobi to acquire the new passports.
“Form a team that will go from country to country to register Kenyans in the diaspora. No Kenyan should be forced to spend money to travel to Kenya to get passports,” he said at the Windhoek Country Club.
The president was responding to requests by Kenyans at the meeting who raised concerns over the difficulties they go through to acquire the new document.
Mr Kenyatta’s directive is a relief to many Kenyans in diaspora who had been forced in incur huge expenses coming back to Nairobi to renew their passports.
They have had to endure long queues at Immigration Department, with some missing out on opportunities due to delays.
Early last month, director-general of the department Alex Muteshi said they had put in place mechanisms to enable Kenyans renew and acquire new-generation passports in Paris, Berlin, Washington, London, Dubai and Johannesburg in the next two months.
The Kenya passport is issued to Kenya citizens in accordance with the new Constitution of Kenya, which was promulgated in 2010 and as provided for in the Kenya Citizens and Immigration Act that commenced on 30th August 2011.
In addition issuance process is regulated by Legal Notice No. 64 (the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Regulations, 2012). If eligible, an individual can apply for a New Passport, Renewal Passport and Replacement Passport. Passports are issued by the Department of Immigration which is under the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.
Kenyan passports are usually used as a form of ID as well and would be rated as second to The Kenyan national ID card.
As of September 2017, Kenya commenced issuing the new East African format e-Passport. Directorate of Immigration and Registration of Persons, Gordon Kihalangwa, said on a live Twitter chat that tracking individuals’ movements will become easier with the e-Passport.
This is inline with digitization of Kenya. The new e-systems will improve efficiency and rid out loop holes and enhance security this one of Kenya’s goal in vision 2030. The new bio-metric passport contains the holders bio-data such as finger prints, digitally stored photo and signature among others.
Some of the feature engraved in the passport include;
Electronic chip holding the same information as the old model passport, Bio-metric identifier, Digital photograph of the passport holder, Security features to prevent unauthorized use and forgery. Details of the e-Passport will be registered with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Also to be noted is that the new color adopted on the Kenyan ordinary passport, Light blue are the official colors of the East African community. The new e-Passport has been available as of 1 September 2017 with the old ordinary passport expected to be phased out by 31 August 2019 when they will be rendered unusable and cease to being recognized as travel documents.
Kenyan passports are valid for ten (10) years after date of issuance according to information available in the department of immigration under ministry of interior and National coordination, and read together with the Kenyan constitution.
Children and persons under eighteen (18) years are required to have their own government issued passport separate from the parent. Minors application is done on the parents e-citizen account and clearly one selects “minor application”.
The Kenyan passport is valid in all Commonwealth countries and all foreign nations of the world. There are three types of passports.
Diplomatic (maroon cover), This is issued to Kenyan diplomats accredited overseas and their eligible dependents and to citizens who reside in the foreign country.
Ordinary (light blue cover), Isued to Kenyan citizens while traveling abroad, valid for 10 years.
- East African passport (light blue cover), which is issued to Kenyans for travel within the East African Community,valid for six months and usable for multiple entry into: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.