Smart Cards to Replace Paper Passports at Citizens’ Request

Smart Cards to Replace Paper Passports at Citizens’ Request


On August 18, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maxut Shadayev announced that the replacement of the usual paper passport with its electronic version would not become mandatory. The announcement that paper passports, to which millions of Russians are accustomed, would be replaced had been made earlier.

RT TV reported in early April that the Russian Interior Ministry had shared details about a new type of passport, a smart card with a built-in electronic chip. New passports will be available in Moscow stating December 1, 2021. Other regions will be able to issue them as soon as they get the required equipment. The deadline for implementing the new passport project is the second half of 2023. The procedure for obtaining a smart card is similar to that for issuing a regular paper passport but with one exception: two fingertips will be scanned.

The Interior Ministry explained that at least 100,000 new passports will be issued at the initial stage. Persons who have reached the age of 14 can get a new passport. Interior Ministry officers said that an electronic passport was not mandatory and that the paper version would remain the available option. A smart card is equivalent to a paper version of a passport but it has more advanced protection system ensured by cryptographic technology.

Shadayev said in his interview with Rossiya 24 that “from the viewpoint of replacing the paper passport, a modern format is preferable.” He believes that the authorities will make the decision before the end of this year.

On August 12, the changes approved by the Russian government on the issue and replacement of passport and its content came into force. Some stamps are henceforth not obligatory and depend on the owner's wish. For example, the term of passport replacement at the age of 20 or 45 has been extended to 90 days.

The Finance Ministry explained that when a citizen requested a service at a Multifunctional Public Services Center, he or she will be offered to create electronic duplicates of documents, which will be displayed in his personal account on the government services portal. The duplicates of passports, foreign passports, certificates issued by civil registry offices, as well as qualification and education documents, will be saved in electronic form there. The full list of documents will be approved by the government.

Electronic employment record books came into use on January 1, 2020. The transition to the new format was also voluntary. This last March, the Russian Ministry of Labour clarified the rules for filling in these employment record books.

“The automated information data system will have electronic copies of people’s documents, which will facilitate the provision of services, both state and municipal. After all, back in October 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the transition of all state and municipal services to electronic format by 2023,” Dmitry Lipin, a member of the commission for legal support of the digital economy of the Moscow branch of the Association of Lawyers of Russia, said in an interview with Izvestia.

Shadaev, in his turn, specified that the Ministry of Digital Development was tasked with providing citizens with an opportunity to have a digital copy of their passport, which would be placed in the phone and have its own QR code.

It is very convenient, especially for the young people, who use smartphones not only for listening to music, playing games or reading news, but also for making payments and other transactions. This has become commonplace for younger generations. Therefore, they will probably welcome the introduction of an electronic Russian passport which rids of the need to carry around a paper document. During the transition to digital technologies, it is perceived as a matter of course, and we just live at such times. The main thing is that people will have an option to use a paper or electronic passport.

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