Russian citizens will be able to reject the digital passport

Russian citizens will be able to reject the digital passport

Russian authorities do not oblige citizens to swap their classic paper passports for smart cards. This was announced in an interview with the Russia 24 TV channel on August 18, 2021, by the head of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maksut Shadayev.

“It was decided not to make this (replace a paper passport with a smart card) mandatory. That said for those people who are ready to change a paper passport for a smart card, for a digital copy of a passport in a smartphone, this will be voluntary. There is an agreed position that it will not be obligatory,” - stated the minister.

Earlier, on August 18, 2021, Maksut Shadayev emphasized that the decision to replace the ordinary passport of a citizen of Russia with a smart card will be made by the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media by the end of 2021. He also called a smart card a more convenient form factor for storing all the necessary personal data about a citizen.

At the time of publication of the material, new passports in the form of a plastic card with a microchip inside were not issued in large quantities in Russia. In July 2021, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko told that a project to introduce a digital analogue of a passport in Russia would be launched in December 2021. But this will only be a pilot launch, and it will affect only Moscow residents.

Paper passports are still under threat

In his statement, Maksut Shadayev did not specify how long the Russian citizens will have the opportunity to use a paper passport, without having to replace it with a smart card. In other words, the likelihood remains that after some time there will be no alternative and that Russians will have to agree to a piece of plastic when replacing their passports.

Back in July 2019, the Russian authorities announced preparations for a complete dismissal of paper passports. Maxim Akimov, who at that time held the post of Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and oversaw the informatization of Russian Government, spoke about this. Now he is the general director of the Russian Post.

At that time, the authorities planned to stop issuing paper passports in 2022 in order to encourage Russians to switch to their electronic equivalent.

The timing of the emergence of smart cards

Plans to start issuing electronic passports in Moscow in 2021 were announced by the Russian authorities back in November 2020. At that time, representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs spoke about this, assuring that the process would be launched no later than December, 2021. Similar dates were in the same November 2020 voiced by Maksut Shadayev during a speech at a plenary session during the government hour in the Federation Council.

All of this will affect Moscow exclusively. In other words, more than 130 million Russians living outside the capital will have to wait a little longer. According to Izvestia, the introduction of electronic passports in the regions will begin no later than July 1, 2023. Russians who have reached the age of 14 will be able to obtain a plastic passport.

Ten years of waiting

If the e-passports will actually become available to the overwhelming majority of Russians only in the first half of 2023, then by that time the project will be 10 years old. For the first time, the authorities started talking about the need to switch to plastic smart cards back in the first quarter of 2013. It all started with the preparation of the first relevant draft law by the Federal Migration Service (FMS).

The authors of the document even set the first dates for the start of the country's transfer to new passports - January 1, 2015. Six months later, in September 2013, the authorities announced that the issuance of paper passports would end in 2025, and that they would become invalid in 2030.

In the same month, the authorities postponed the start of issuing e-passports from January 2015 one year ahead. By August 2014, a design concept for the future passport replacement was ready. It was a 54x86 mm plastic card. On its front side there were data on the name of the citizen, the date and place of his birth and gender. The number, date of issue and validity of the certificate were also located here.

In July 2019, the authorities proposed to sew information about SNILS and the owner's driver's license into the chip of electronic passports. At the same time, the validity period of the new document was announced - the Russians will have to change it every ten years if this rule is not revised in the future.

For comparison, a paper passport needs to be changed less often. According to the legislation in force, every Russian receives his first identity card at the age of 14, changes it at the age of 20, and then upon reaching the age of 45. After that, you will no longer need to obtain a new paper passport.