THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has temporarily halted operations on issuance and processing of the biometric passport or the popularly called "e-Passport" starting Friday.

DFA said the one-week halt of e-Passport processing operations is due to data migration and systems upgrade for better service to the public.

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Since its official launch in the Philippines on August 11, 2009, DFA said thousands of Filipinos has already issued of the e-Passport.

It can be recalled that the very first recipient of the e-Passport in the country is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who received the highly-electronic passport on the day of its launching.

E-Passport is a combined paper and electronic passport (hence the e-, as in e-mail) that uses biometrics to authenticate the identity of travelers.

It uses contactless smart card technology, including a microprocessor chip (computer chip) and antenna (for both power to the chip and communication) embedded in the front or back cover, or center page, of the passport.

E-Passport has various security features, including a hidden encoded image; an ultra-thin, holographic laminate; and a tamper-proof electronic microchip costing at around P950.00.

DFA said there is nothing to worry for those who are planning to apply for e-Passport because the operation halt is just for one week, and applicants can rest assured the processing would resume after January 22, 2010.

Before, DFA said "The e-Passport will facilitate and hasten the entry formalities in other countries of OFWs, Filipinos residing in other countries and Filipino travelers, as well as further reduce opportunities for passport fraud and tampering."