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02 October 2018, 13:34

Belarus postpones introduction of biometric documents till 2020

A traditional passport next to the biometric one. An archive photo
A traditional passport next to the biometric one. An archive photo

MINSK, 2 October (BelTA) – The introduction of biometric documents in Belarus has been postponed till 2020 because of the need to integrate information systems, the SB. Belarus Segodnya newspaper informs citing deputy head of the citizenship, passports and outward travel authority of the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Belarusian Internal Affairs Ministry Pavel Khrishchenovich, BelTA has learned.

The first new documents – ID cards and biometric passports – will be available starting from 1 January 2020, not in 2019 as it was planned before. According to Pavel Khrishchenovich, on the part of the Internal Affairs Ministry everything is in place to start issuing the documents. “We will receive the necessary equipment by the end of the year and in theory we could launch ID cards and biometric passports from the onset of the next year. However, we realize that it makes no sense yet, as it will be bare plastic,” he noted.

In order to issue ID cards, it is necessary to interconnect all information systems to which a citizen will have access. Today all these databases are operated on different platforms. “We have drafted a roadmap to implement this project together with the Communications and Informatization Ministry. The document has 15 pages and clearly defines who will be in charge of various stages of the work to put the new system in place,” Pavel Khrishchenovich said. He added that one of the stages is setting up the country's first data personalization center. It will accumulate information from all the citizenship and migration offices in a real time mode.

By 2020 every citizenship and migration office will receive robotic devices that have already been purchased from a Chinese company. They will be able to take a photo and fingerprints of a person on their own. This information will be the basis for new identity documents.

An ID card will incorporate several functions of a traditional passport and will become the only identity document in Belarus. A biometric passport will be used only for travelling abroad. It will not be valid on the territory of Belarus – this function will be assumed by the ID card. The new biometric documents will replace all other documents used in Belarus, like service and diplomatic passports, refugee's travel documents and travel documents of stateless persons. ID cards will be available for Belarusian nationals, foreign citizens permanently residing in Belarus and stateless persons.

Passports and ID cards will be mandatory for persons over 14 years of age. However, an ID card can be issued for minors as soon as they are born upon the application of their legal representatives. A card will contain information about a person's place of residence, while biometric passports will only contain information about visas.

An ID card will cost one base amount (it equals Br24.5 today). A biometric passport will cost three base amounts. Biometric passports will not be mandatory. Belarusians will be able to use their traditional documents together with an ID card. The electronic chip of the new passport will contain personal information, namely a photo, a digital signature and fingerprints. This is done to ease border crossing procedures and visa application procedures and to increase the security level of Belarusian passports.

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