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China to start issuing e-passports

By Cao Yin and Zhou Wenting (China Daily)

10:07, May 09, 2012

A police officer from the exit-entry administration of Beijing Public Security Bureau presents the new e-passport, which is to be issued on May 15. Provided to China Daily

China's e-passports will better protect citizens' personal data and national security, said customs officials on Tuesday, as authorities nationwide geared up for the introduction of the new high-tech system.

The 48-page travel document, which will be issued starting May 15, is fitted with a chip on the last page. Each page has an anti-forgery label.

Only police and customs authorities will be able to access the information on the chip, which includes the holder's name, photograph and fingerprints.

"In this way, no one can copy or use an e-passport that is lost or stolen," said Tang Lei, head of e-passport management for Beijing Public Security Bureau's exit-entry administration.

"The e-passport will be effective in protecting national security and convenient for residents when passing through customs checkpoints."

So far, more than 100 fingerprint recorders have been installed at the exit-entry administrations that process applications across the capital. Authorities say that staff members responsible for coping with the application work have received extensive training.

Although the e-passport will increase the workload for staff, it will take just one or two more minutes to finish an application.

Starting May 15, new applicants will get e-passports after storing thumb fingerprints and signatures, while old passports can still be used, if valid, said Lin Song, an officer in the administration.

The cost for the passport application will remain 200 yuan ($30).

The application process in Beijing will be suspended on Monday to transfer the system.

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