Preparations for the introduction of biometric passports are in an advanced stage and these should start being issued in October, a spokesman for the Communications Ministry told

The spokesman said the plan was for expired passports to be renewed with biometric ones.

The complex preparations being undertaken included the recent transfer of the Passport Office to Evans Building. The ministry is also implementing a National Identity Management Information System for all identity management aspects to be handled by a single office.

The office will be subject to the provisions of the existing Data Protection Act and the management of personal data will be subject to the review or audit of the Data Protection Commissioner.

This would ensure Malta’s compliance with new European standards for passports and allow the country to join the USA visa waiver programme.

Biometric data will be collected through a special image capture devise at the Passport Office. Photos and the individual’s signature will be taken at the counter.

Passports will be personalised on site in a security controlled environment conforming to stringent and established international standards and the biographic data and features of the passport holder will be reproduced in the passport’s electronic chip.

When registering for a passport, applicants will be given an optional opportunity to register for an e-ID.

The spokesman said that in normal circumstances, a biometric passport will be ready for collection in four days.

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