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The Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) is going to procure 20 lakh booklets of machine readable passport (MRP) more from the British firm De La Rue to meet the emergency demand for passports before introducing the much-talked about e-passport. - A home for your website

The DIP has already taken permission from the home ministry to purchase the MRP booklets at the earliest, sources in the DIP said.

The passport authorities’ move to procure the booklets comes nine months after the completion of the “Introduction of MRP and MRV Project” that ended June last year, the sources added.

Talking to The Independent, DIP Director General Maj. Gen. Md Sohail Hossain Khan said his department has to issue MRPs to passport holders even after the introduction of e-passports in the country in June because the new travel devices will be issued on a limited scale at first.

Therefore, 20 lakh MRP booklets will be imported soon to meet the emergency demand, he added.

“We are going to introduce the e-passports from June on a limited scale and we will not be able to issue them to all. And that’s why we have to issue MRPs. It will need time to install the required devices in all DIP offices to issue e-passports,” he informed.

Sources said the DIP will need two years to issue e-passports from all its offices at home and the Bangladesh missions abroad in full swing.

There are about 16 lakh MRP booklets in the DIP stock and about 4.50 lakh booklets are needed to meet the monthly demand.

According to the sources, a high-powered team, comprising the DIP DG and ministry officials, will visit Germany in two weeks for pre-shipment inspection (PSI) of the e-passport. German company Veridos GmbH is working to introduce the e-passport project in Bangladesh.

The project titled “Introduction of

E-Passport and Automated Border Control Management in Bangladesh” will cost Tk 4,569 crore.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with the German company during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to that country in February 2017. Under the agreement, a passport booklet factory will be set up in Dhaka’s Uttara area, where a six-storey printing building of the DIP has been constructed.

The German company will set up the necessary equipment at all Bangladeshi missions abroad and all passport offices in the country.

As part of the proposed project, three crore e-passports would be produced and distributed among the current holders of MRPs in the country.

At present, a passport holder has to pay Tk 3,000 as fees for a normal (30-day) MRP and Tk 6,000 for an emergency (seven-day) MRP.

DIP sources said they have issued 2.36 crore MRPs since the system was introduced in April 2010. At least 118 countries have already introduced e-passports.

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