East African Community: Clarification on the use of the East African passport

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Following a Media Conference two weeks ago, which the Secretary General of the East African Community had held in Arusha to announce and promote the 3rd East African Investment Conference, some newspapers in the region wrongly reported that the EAC had suspended the use of the East African Passport. As a result, it has now surfaced that, apparently, some Immigration Officers have been refusing to accept the East African Passport as a valid travel document.

It should be clarified that the EAC Secretary General at no time has he stated that the use of the East African Passport has been suspended. In fact, neither the East African Community Secretariat nor the EAC Secretary General has authority on matters related to issuance of passports. The fact that the passport is called East African Passport in no way invokes the involvement of the East African Community in matters related to passports. It is only the National Immigration Departments of the EAC Partner States that have authority over passport matters. It is the same authorities that have powers also to suspend the issue of the same.

In this context, it can only be deemed as a paradox that an Immigration Officer at any station in the region should even think that the EAC Secretariat or the EAC Secretary General has suspended the use of the East African Passport.

The correct position is that the East African Passport is and remains a valid travel document in the EAC region. At that Press Conference the Secretary General’s remarks on the East African Passport was limited to the information that the Passport was under review by the Immigration Authorities with a view to upgrading its features to meet international machine readable standards and requirements.

Source: East African Community (EAC)

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