Afghanistan: Passport Law of 25 October 2015; appearance and security features of passports; specimen of passports (2015-January 2018) [AFG106043.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. 2015 Passport Law

According to sources, the 2015 Passport Law of Afghanistan, published in the Official Gazette No. 1193, dated 25 October 2015, is fully enforced (Afghanistan n.d.; Shajjan & Associates 20 Jan. 2018). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Kabul-based law firm Shajjan & Associates, whose practice areas include immigration law (Shajjan & Associates n.d.), specified that the Law "is applicable […] in Afghanistan and outside of Afghanistan by consular authorities" (Shajjan & Associates 20 Jan. 2018). For information on the requirements and procedures to obtain and renew a passport, see Response to Information Request AFG105732 of February 2017.

Sources indicate that, according to the 2015 Passport Law, there are four types of passports: a diplomatic passport, a special passport, a service [official] passport, and an ordinary passport (Afghanistan n.d.; Shajjan & Associates 20 Jan. 2018). An unofficial English translation of the 2015 Passport Law, provided by a UNHCR representative in Kabul to the Research Directorate, is attached to this Response (Attachment 1).

2. Valid Passports

Shajjan & Associates provided a legal opinion which states that, until 2015, "there were two types of valid Afghan passports: [e]lectronic [p]assports and [m]anual [h]andwritten [p]assports" (Shajjan & Associates 20 Jan. 2018). According to sources, the government started to issue machine-readable [electronic] diplomatic and service passports in 2011, and machine-readable [electronic] ordinary passports in September 2012 (Afghanistan n.d.; Shajjan & Associates 20 Jan. 2018). According to the website of the Ministy of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan (MoFA),

[i]n 2012, MoFA started to issue [machine-readable (electronic)] passports through six zones around the world with the exception of Iran and Pakistan and successfully completed this process by the end of 2015. Therefore, after the end of 2017, the handwritten Afghan [p]assports are no longer deemed valid. (Afghanistan n.d.)

Similarly, Shajjan & Associates stated that according the Passport Department of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, "handwritten passports were declared invalid on November 24, 2017" (Shajjan & Associates 20 Jan. 2018).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the UNHCR representative stated that, according to information obtained on 16 January 2018 from the Head of the Passports Directorate of the Ministry of Interior Affairs and senior representatives of the MoFA, "versions 01001 (issued from 2012 to 2015) and 01002 (issued since January 2016)" of the ordinary passport

remain valid and will be recognised as such by Afghanistan authorities, subject to the document's expiry date. These documents carry a passport number preceded by the letter "O". As of January 2018, passports issued in Afghanistan are preceded by the letter "P". Consular offices outside Afghanistan, however, may continue to issue previous document versions with the letter "O" – these will be considered genuine, valid documents, even if they have been issued in 2018. (UN 16 Jan. 2018)

Similarly, according to the Public Register of Authentic Travel and Identity Documents Online (PRADO) of the European Union (EU), versions 01001 and 01002 of the ordinary passport are currently valid (EU 8 Dec. 2017; EU 7 Dec. 2017).

The Keesing Reference Systems provides a sample of a passport that was "introduced on 5 March 2013," which has a validity of five years (Keesing Reference Systems n.d.).

3. Appearance and Security Features

Detailed descriptions of versions 01001 and 01002 of the ordinary passport, including physical and security features, as they appear on PRADO, are attached to this Response (Attachments 2 and 3).

A detailed description of the passport "introduced on 5 March 2013," including physical and security features, as it appears on the Keesing Reference Systems, is attached to this Response (Attachment 4).

According to Shajjan & Associates, "there is no difference in appearance between passports issued within and outside of Afghanistan" (Shajjan & Associates 20 Jan. 2018). However, according to the UNHCR representative,

the head of the Passports Directorate [of the Ministry of Interior Affairs] indicated that consular offices outside Afghanistan may not necessarily issue documents in the same manner as authorities in Kabul, for the time being, although the Government of Afghanistan has already started printing new documents and will distribute these to their diplomatic missions abroad in due course. (UN 16 Jan. 2018)

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Afghanistan. N.d. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). "Deputy Office of Passport." [Accessed 2 Jan. 2018]

European Union (EU). 8 December 2017. Public Register of Authentic Travel and Identity Documents Online (PRADO). "Document: AFG-AO-01001." [Accessed 2 Jan. 2018]

European Union (EU). 7 December 2017. Public Register of Authentic Travel and Identity Documents Online (PRADO). "Document: AFG-AO-01002." [Accessed 2 Jan. 2018]

Keesing Reference Systems. N.d. "Afghanistan - AFG - National Passport." [Accessed 2 Jan. 2018]

Shajjan & Associates. 20 January 2018. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Shajjan & Associates. N.d. "Immigration." [Accessed 23 Jan. 2018]

United Nations (UN). 16 January 2018. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kabul. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Afghanistan – Afghanistan Central Civil Registration Authority, Embassy in Ottawa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; International Organisation for Migration – Mission in Afghanistan; Norwegian Refugee Council.

Internet sites, including: Afghanistan – Afghanistan Central Civil Registration Authority, Embassy in Ottawa, Ministry of Interior Affairs; Al Jazeera; ecoi.net; International Organisation for Migration – Mission in Afghanistan; IRIN News; The New York Times; UN – Refworld; UNHCR.

Attachments

  1. Afghanistan. 2015. Passport Law. Unofficial translation by Naawor Consultancy sent to the Research Directorate by a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kabul, 18 January 2018.
  2. European Union (EU). 8 December 2017. Public Register of Authentic Travel and Identity Documents Online (PRADO). "Document: AFG-AO-01001." [Accessed 25 Jan. 2018]
  3. European Union (EU). 7 December 2017. Public Register of Authentic Travel and Identity Documents Online (PRADO). "Document: AFG-AO-01002." [Accessed 25 January 2018]
  4. Keesing Reference Systems. N.d. "Afghanistan - AFG - National Passport." [Accessed 25 Jan. 2018]