The need to acquire biometric passport is gradually dawn­ing on many Ghanaians as some foreign missions demand that visa applicants using machine read­able passports acquire biometric passports before they are granted visas.

These countries have migrated onto the biometric system and prefer bio­metric passports to machine readable passports currently used by many Ghanaian travellers.

When contacted, Director of Pass­ports, Mr Alexander Grant Ntrakwa told The Finder that the action of the foreign missions do not make the ma­chine readable passports invalid.

He explained that the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) deadline of November 2015 affects only handwritten passports, which is non-machine readable, and should not be confused with machine readable passports.

Handwritten passports will no longer be valid for travel from No­vember 2015 as directed by ICAO.

The Director of Passports noted that Ghana stopped issuing handwrit­ten passports as far back as 2009, and, therefore, dismissed reports that it was machine readable passports currently used by many Ghanaian travellers that would be phased out.

Mr Ntrakwa explained that Ghana­ians with machine readable passports can still use them to travel until they expire.

According to him, Ghanaians using machine readable passport with valid visa in them can travel to countries whose missions are asking for biomet­ric passports before issuing visas to fresh applicants.

He explained that persons given notes by foreign missions to secure biometric passports before being granted visas are offered preferential treatment in order for them to get their biometric passport on time.

Mr Ntrakwa told The Finder that it was to avoid the inconveniences and difficulties of travelling, and for stan­dardisation and uniformity purposes that Ghanaians, are advised to apply for biometric passports, since many countries are now using that.

The Director of Passports empha­sised that encouraging Ghanaians to apply for biometric passports do not make machine readable passports in­valid.

Mr Ntrakwa disclosed that over one million biometric passports have been issued to Ghanaians, out of the 1.5 million booklets ordered, adding a small number of the books were also not good to be issued.

He attributed the delay to issue passports to some applicants on time to problem with capturing of information or the applicant not providing full information.