Uganda to Phase Out Paper Passports, Adopt Electronic Ones

The government has announced plans to phase out the existing paper passports and adopt the electronic (e-passport) used by other East African Community (EAC) member states starting January 2019.

In a statement, the Ministry of East African Community Affairs said the move is aimed at adjusting to the EAC guidelines on use of passports that are already operational in Kenya and Tanzania.

“Uganda will start issuing the new generation EAC e-passport in early January 2019. Citizens intending to acquire passports are advised to wait until early January 2019. The process of phasing out the current Uganda passport will go on progressively until January 2021,” the Ministry of East African Community Affairs said on Wednesday.

The EAC e-Passport will be valid for up to 10 years while the diplomatic and service passports will be valid according to specific term of the service of the holder.

The new passport is in line with implementation of the Common Market protocol which guarantees the right to move between countries in East Africa.

The EAC e–Passport will have Diplomatic, Service and Ordinary categories and is different from the current machine readable passport being issued by the partner states.

The standard international e-Passport will have a chip that holds the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page, the holder’s name, date of birth, and other biographic information.

It will also contain a biometric identifier and have a digital photograph of the holder and security features to prevent unauthorised reading or “scanning” of data stored.


In 2017, the 35th EAC Council of Minister’s meeting directed partner states to start issuing new EA e-Passport by January 31 this year after consideration of different status of preparedness by the same.

In April 2017, Kenya became the first partner state to roll out the electronic passport and plans to phase out the old passport by September 1 next year.

In January, Tanzania followed suit and rolled out the new electronic EAC passports and plans to phase out the existing national documents by January 2020.

The new EAC travel document will come in red, green and sky blue —the colours of the EAC flag — but with text and national emblems, in gold to complete its face.

The colour of the passport will depend on categories. For instance, EAC diplomats will carry a passport that is red in colour, green for officials and sky blue for ordinary people.

The outer front cover will have the words ‘East African Community’ in gold on top and below the name of the issuing Partner States will be pasted.

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