India’s Ministry of External Affairs on January 7 signed an agreement with Tata Consultancy Services Limited for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP), one of the several Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) of the Government of India.

The $1 billion agreement will focus on faster delivery of passports to the citizens and aims create a more effective integration between various government ministries.

“India will soon introduce next-gen ePassports for citizens,” Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Secretary of the Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) Division at the external affairs ministry, tweeted. The new e-passports will be based on secure biometric data and will ensure smooth immigration process globally, Bhattacharya said in his tweet.

“Smooth passage through immigration posts globally. ICAO compliant. Produced at India Security Press, Nashik,” Bhattacharya tweeted.

The current Indian passport is a printed booklet that falls under the category of machine-readable passports. The new regulation is to upgrade to international standards of the ICAO.

The ePassport will have a security chip embedded on the second page of the passport with personal data, including the biographical information of the holder. It will also have a digital signature unique to each country that can be verified using a certificate. In India, the ePassport was under trial and the government had issued about 20,000 of them for officials. The Indian Passport Authority issued the first ePassport to the then President of India, Pratibha Patil, in 2008.