It was 1997. "Petrivka" market was just opened in Kyiv. First route taxis started running Kyiv streets. Colonel of Air Forces Leonid Kadenyuk was put into space, and about 400 thousand children were born in Ukraine.

Things have changed since then, both in politics and economy, and then-newborns are now 16-year-old boys and girls, ready to get their first passports - blue paper booklets, which have not changed a bit, by the way.

Old generation documents do not hurry to leave. The fact is that issuing of biometric passports with installed chips remains a project. Though the government has approved the "new look" of Ukrainian passports - plastic cards with non-contact electronic media, the officials cannot name the exact date of implementation. Approximate date is the year 2016, chairman of the State Migration Service of Ukraine Mykola Kovalchuk told a press conference.

According to him, it is impossible to implement the practice fast in our country. First, it is needed to improve the legislation, hold a tender for blank form production, create pilot projects and provide proper financing. The implementation of the project requires 700-800 million hryvnias, and the department does not have this kind of money for now, according to Kovalchuk.

Ukraine is not the only country, concerned about biometrics. Kyrgyzstan plans to switch to biometric passports starting from 2015. Tajikistan and Azerbaijan plan to introduce the practice before the end of 2013. Biometric passports are already being issued in Armenia, Uzbekistan and Belarus. Moldova's ambassador to Ukraine told ForUm that issuing of biometric passports in his country started in 2011, but met an obstacle - the Orthodox Church argued against the innovation. The implementation process was complicated in Russia as well. It took five years to approve and start issuing biometric passports. Such mass rush to implement biometrics in CIS countries involves the OSCE requirement - all members of the organization must introduce new type of documents before January 1, 2015.

There is still time. Meanwhile, about 800 thousand young Ukrainians as minimum will get blue paper booklets before scheduled "biopassportization", not to mention those who will have to replace passports because of loss, damage or change of last name. Thus, ForUm wants to remind about several nuances to be taken care of.

Important details

Case: A school graduate from Cherkassy was registered in passport as "Hanna" (Ukrainian transliteration), but her school diploma said she was "Anna" (Russian transliteration). Troubles started when the girl applied documents for entering a university. She was told documents could not stipulate two different names. The passport had to be changed. Meanwhile, Anna almost turned grey, but thanks to 'extra cost' managed to speed up the process and join the admission campaign in time. 

Recommendation: Before putting your signature on the document, control whether your name in the passport and other documents coincides. If your name is Mikhail, and your birth certificate is filled in Russian or any other foreign language, you can keep original transliteration "Mikhail", not "Mykhailo" as required by Ukrainian transliteration. However, if your birth certificate reads your name according to Ukrainian grammar, but you want the name to correspond your national tradition (to sound in Russian, for example), you have to appeal to the Registry Office and obtain a document saying you are Dmitri, not Dmytro.     

Case: A couple of years ago, a student of Journalism Institute Olga got married and decided to take the last name of her husband. Consequently, all ID documents, including passport, had to be changed. However, a passport officer was not very attentive and forgot to stamp the civil status in the new passport. If Olga had not controlled the passport on site, she would have remained unmarried with a different name.

Recommendation: Read carefully every page of the passport and control whether the data is correct: name, date and place of birth, sex, issuing authority, residence, etc.

Case: Coach of the national volleyball junior team Tetyana was bring the team in Russia for a championship, but was stopped at the border because her passport photo did not have embossed impression of the stamp.  Fortunately, there was a fellow coach, who could continue the trip, while Tetyana had to stay and replace the document.  Passport officers denied accusations and responsibility and told Tetyana it was all her fault - the impression wore out because she used the document carelessly.

Recommendation: Every photo in passport must have embossed impression of the stamp on the front side and the signature and official stamp on the next page. Numbers on the stamp and its impression must be clear and coincide. In order to preserve the impression for longer period, it is better to submit glossy photo, not matte. Glossy photo paper is thinner and embossed impression is more visible.

According to the regulations, passport recipient must check the data in the document on site. If you do not find any mistake or inaccuracy, you will be offered to put your signature on the first page. If you discover any mistakes later, passport officers will not take responsibility, but will blame it on you.
As ForUm learned from the State Migration Service, if it turns out you have been using the passport, filled up with mistakes, all your civil law agreements or bank operations can be recognized invalid.

New face

"I am planning to undergo plastic surgery to fix my nose. Do I have to change the passport?" Such questions are common for those who plan to change their appearance. It turns out the law does not oblige to get new document. You also do not have to get passport if you get buzzed, gain hundred kilos, make a facial tattoo or piercing. Law enforcement officials and bank workers identify people not only by the shape of ears or eye color, but by the resemblance of your visual image with the photo. If you have changed beyond recognition, it is in your interest to replace the passport and photo in it, otherwise you will face problems every time you cross a check point. Explaining airport officers that you had your nose or chin fixed is not the most pleasant pastime when there are tens of people standing in line behind you.  

The last recommendation ForUm can give you is to get ready for racing about and paper chase, as well as for specific attitude. I don't know about other countries, but offensive behaviour in Ukrainian passport offices is a usual attribute. Obviously, it does not concern all officers, and we believe there many experienced and welcoming workers among them. On the other hand, we should understand that working conditions, like continuous paper work, inpatient citizens and low salary leave much to be desired. For this, we wish Ukrainians, recipients and passport officers, mutual respect and patience.   

Alina Yeremeyeva


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