Tanzania will from Saturday enforce the use of the new East African Community electronic passport (e-passport) as its official international travel document.
Phasing out of the old passports will end on March 1 to allow Tanzanians in foreign countries one month to use the old passports to travel back home.
Old passport holders within Tanzania will not be allowed to use them to travel abroad, according to the Immigration Department spokesperson Ally Mtanda.
Mr Mtanda said that from February 1, non-electronic passports will no longer be recognised and accepted for travel although the process of applying for the digital passports is continuous.
Kenya was the first EAC member to roll out e-passports in September 2017, implementing an agreement signed at the EAC Heads of State summit in December 2016.
Uganda and Rwanda, which are in the process of introducing e-passports, have both set a deadline of 2021 for phasing out the old passports.
Mr Mtanda said since the e-passports’ roll-out began in 2018, 283,877 people have applied for and received the document to date.
“Of these, 281,544 are of the ordinary type, 499 are service and 1,829 are diplomatic passports for ambassadors and five are for the highest-ranking government officials,” he said.
The electronic passport costs $64.45, and applicants are required to produce a national identity card and other documents as required.
There were long queues at the Kurasini Immigration Centre in Dar es Salaam over the past couple of weeks as those wishing to travel before February 1 rushed to apply before the deadline.
The government has set up 31 new immigration centres around the country, and also installed equipment in embassies abroad to speed up the process.
Kenya had initially set September 2019 as the deadline for use of non-electronic passports but extended the deadline to March 1, 2020, to manage congestion.