Plans to launch an electronic passport in the country are at an advanced stage, a development that is anticipated to usher in robust standards of travel documents and international security.

Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said the country is now ready to launch the e-passport.

The passport production centre situated at KG6 in Harare is capable of printing 16 000 booklets per day and was commissioned last year by President Robert Mugabe.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Dr Chombo said the e-passport or digital passport is compliant with International Civil Aviation Organisation standards which guarantee integrity expected of travel documents.

The digitalised and machine readable passport contains small contactless computer chips embedded in the back cover and will also have a digital photograph of the passport holder.

The benefits of having an electronic passport include the use of automated border clearance known as e-gates, automated issuance of boarding passes and faster travel arrangements with airlines.

The e-passport database is enhanced with an automated fingerprint verification system that prevents multiple passport issuances.