Handwritten passports to be phased out by November 2015

Person placing passport into black bag

Last updated on December 5th, 2023 at 03:50 pm

This article on handwritten passports was updated on June 6, 2023.

Residents holding handwritten and 20-year duration passports with validity beyond November 2015 have been asked to reapply for its’ reissuance, to avoid any inconvenience in obtaining visas or problems related to immigration formalities.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has set a deadline of the 24th November, 2015 for globally phasing out of all non-Machine Readable Passports (MRPs). Machine readable zones are the area on passports which can be scanned by passport scanners. From the 25th November, 2015 onwards, foreign Governments may deny Visa or entry to any person traveling on a non-Machine Readable Passport.

All of these passports with pasted photographs are also considered non-MRPs.

Indian citizens residing in India and abroad and holding such passports with validity beyond the 24th November, 2015 are advised to apply for re-issue of their passports well before the deadline in order to avoid any inconvenience in obtaining valid visa or international travel. Although the Indian government has been issuing machine readable passports since 2001, these passports with 20-years of validity were issued as late as 2000. As of 2016, it was estimated that there were approximately 210,000 handwritten Indian passports left in circulation.

Countries who may have valid, handwritten passports in circulation

  • Bangladesh. “Bangladesh has been issuing machine readable passport for many years. We have almost phased out the handwritten passports, a few might have been left”, a senior official of the Bangladesh embassy told The Peninsula
  • Nepal. “We cannot say exactly how many Nepalese expatriates still hold handwritten passports but I assure you that there will be very few,” said an official from Nepal embassy
  • Pakistan. An official of the Pakistan embassy also said that there are only few of these passports still existing, especially those having 10 year validity

Can passport scanners read handwritten passports?

No. Even sophisticated OCR(Optical Character Recognition) software is not capable of reading or parsing these passports. But the VeriScan software is capable of both reading and parsing data on passports to ensure proper retrieval of data at an accuracy rate of about 79%-89%. That being said, OCR isn’t a perfect solution, so businesses shouldn’t rely solely on OCR technology to verify identity. 2D Barcode scanning, which done with the proper scanner and software has an accuracy rate of 99%. If you already have a software in place, we have a variety of SDKs and APIs that can be easily integrated into a range of solutions. Browse our selection of passports scanners to see which one works best for your business, and if you still need guidance, don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team.