SUVA, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's new e-passports will become publicly available by Aug. 26 this year.
Speaking at the Parliament on Friday, Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said that as time has marched on and Immigration Departments around the world have grown sophisticated, Fiji's passports need to evolve to keep up with the pace.
He said that the security feature of the current passports, in particular, are in need of updating to protect against forgery and identity theft and that was why the government is undertaking a transition from paper-based passports to new state of the art e-passports.
Bainimarama said these new upgraded e-passports will contain a new range of security features that will make it more difficult for people to illegally enter the country and it will be easier for the Fijians to travel overseas by using e-passport gates when they wait at airport immigration queues.
"So we are not only making Fiji safer, we are making travelling easier. We are also setting Fiji up for wider visa-free status around the world," he said.
With the rollout of these passports, Fiji joins the ranks with 54 other countries that have already engrained such technology within their passports, he said, adding that e-passports did not mean that passports are going entirely online but are physical passport books with a new range of security features.
The introduction of this new system by the Fiji Immigrant Department focuses on strengthening border security and streamlines customs and immigration, decreasing passenger processing time and creating an easier, more efficient travel experience in Fiji.
Fiji will be the third country in the Pacific region with Tonga and the Solomon Islands already having the e-passport system.