No set timeline for new ID cards

No set timeline for new ID cards

Likely to be out by early 2010

There is still no timeline for the introduction of electronic identity cards as the expiry date on old ones is extended by another year.

A spokesman for the Communications Ministry said the expiry date for old identity cards - many of which are already expired - is being extended by a year. However, this could be extended further once a more precise date for the introduction of electronic ID cards would have been established.

Asked when the new chipped ID cards are expected to be introduced, the spokesman said a precise timeline can only be determined once the development plan, which is in progress, has been completed.

There are 315,000 expired ID cards in circulation. In January last year, the Commissioner of Police and the Chief Electoral Commissioner announced that ID cards issued after January 2002, which had already expired or which expired in 2008, would remain valid until the end of last year.

Expired ID cards are still being renewed, especially because some individuals use them instead of a passport when travelling within the European Union. The spokesman said this was being done to eliminate the possibility of queries by border control authorities. In fact, 103,000 persons, including foreigners, changed their expired ID card even if the old card is still considered valid in Malta.

The spokesman said the government is committed to introduce the electronic identity cards with most of the preparatory work expected to be carried out this year. Once the system is in place, there will be a nationwide process to replace the old ID cards.

Although there is no precise timeline, the spokesman said the target was to have the new cards by between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010. "We are working together with our partners, De La Rue Ltd, on a detailed implementation plan."

The cards will include biometric data about the holder, including facial and fingerprint information.

Moreover, the cards will provide the possibility of storing or accessing additional information relevant to the individual's health records.

However, this will not be printed on the card and only certain categories of personnel - like medical practitioners - will be able to retrieve the data after they are given consent by the card's owner.

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