Pakistanis in UAE urged to get machine-readable passports

Pakistanis in the UAE have been asked to convert their manual passports into machine-readable ones by the end of the month.

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ABU DHABI // Pakistani expatriates with handwritten passports have been asked to convert them into machine-readable ones before the end of the month.

Those who do not convert their passports by October could have their legal status jeopardised, said an official at the Pakistani embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Fewer than 1 per cent of Pakistanis in the country still have handwritten passports.

Handwritten passports will be invalid after September 30, meaning that legal documents and permits needed to live and work in the UAE would also become questionable, the official said, urging Pakistani expats to take the deadline seriously.

The embassy has been providing services for machine-readable passports since 2005. Regular requests for new, machine-readable passports can take more than a month, while an urgent passport can be issued in seven days for a fee of Dh300.

The Pakistani foreign office said that expats abroad who did not convert their passports would become stateless, because the government would not own or accept handwritten ones under a rule set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The organisation had set November last year as a deadline after which computerised passports would become the universal requirement. The deadline was later extended to October 1 this year.