ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Individuals travelling using the Antigua & Barbuda hand-written passports have been told to acquire the machine-readable form of the document or risk inconvenience and travel delays.
“Some countries have actually told persons that they are not accepting hand-written passports. They are being told to get the machine-readable passports because that’s what their system supports,” said Permanent Secretary in the Passport Office Jocelyn Greene.
“They are not turned away the first time but they are warned by the immigration officers. It’s an inconvenience both for the traveller and the immigration officer,” she said.
The country has been issuing the new Caricom machine-readable passports since 2006, a requirement of the international community in response to the global terrorism threat and to make life easier for passengers.
The Passport Office said it saw the largest influx of individuals applying for the passport when the first deadline was announced last year.
Greene said another influx of passport applications is expected ahead of the next announced deadline in June.
She said her office cannot recall the hand-written documents and will continue to issue the new passports as long as there is a request for it.
At peak, the Passport Office said it can receive in excess of 100 applications per day. One passport takes a maximum of three weeks to process.