The Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) has announced to all airlines, through the International Air Transport Association (IATA), that the Ghana Card will, from March 1, 2022, be recognised as an international travelling identity document, otherwise called e-passport, for all Ghanaians travelling to Ghana.
The GACL’s announcement follows last week’s ‘key ceremony’ at the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, to officially recognise the Ghana Card as a Machine Readable Travel Document (MRTD).
This directive means that Ghanaians in the diaspora, who hitherto needed a Ghanaian passport and a visa to travel back home, will now be able to use their Ghana Card to travel back to Ghana without a visa.
The GACL has also sent a separate notification on the new directive to the IATA Timatic Team, for publication on IATA Timatic Platform “for the general information of all concerned”.
The latest step by the GACA has paved the way for airports and airlines to start recognising the Ghana Card as an e-passport.
Meanwhile, the Economic Policy Advisor and Spokesperson of the Vice-President, Dr Gideon Boako, has called on Ghanaians to ignore the wrong interpretation of a statement from the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Some people had sought to claim that the ICAO had said the Ghana Card cannot be used as e-passport.
He explained that just like the current normal booklet passport, one will need ICAO to approve and capture the data into their Public Key Directory (PKD) for certification before any country can accept it as official travel documents.
“Such key ceremony certification, as was done on February 9 in the case of the Ghanacard, is the ultimate step to take before any national identity card/passport can be used for travelling purposes,” he said in a statement.
According to him, Ghana has crossed this stage with respect to the GhanaCard, which makes it officially certified as having the right qualities to be admissible by receiving countries as e-passport subject to country-to-country bilateral agreements.
“Through the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), official communication has gone to all border ports that Ghana, as a receiving country, is accepting holders of the Ghanacard into Ghana. The statement by ICAO that Ghana has crossed the major millstone in efforts to provide for more international acceptance of its biometric electronic travel documents is therefore not inconsistent with official communication from government,” he noted.
He stated that, in practical terms, the holder of a GhanaCard will be allowed to board a flight to Ghana [receiving country] from any airport, just as with the normal biometric passport, without the need for a visa.
“Diasporan Ghanaians who hold the GhanaCard will not require a visa to travel to Ghana. Within ECOWAS the Ghanacard can be used to travel to any country. Traveling outside ECOWAS however, will require that you use your normal biometric passport which will contain your visas.
“In the not too distant future, we expect that electronic visas will be issued under ICAO 2.0 protocols. When this starts, electronic visas could be issued on the GhanaCard under bilateral arrangements with other countries,” Dr Boako added.