Ready for the Revolution:  Mozambique’s journey from paper documents to eVisa

Ready for the Revolution: Mozambique’s journey from paper documents to eVisa

They started in 2018 with a great undertaking. The Government of the Republic of Mozambique had the plan to equip all borders and airports in the country with state-of-the-art technology. However, modernizing all border posts means not only replacing hardware and software at the 13 airports, 24 land and 7 sea borders, but also ensuring that all Mozambican residents get access to high-tech travel documents such as electronic IDs and eVisas.

German specialist in the security sector Muehlbauer took on this far-reaching assignment. The project’s scope was it to install and ramp-up a cutting-edge solution for the issuance and verification of multiple types of identification documents. At the same time, it was necessary to implement a comprehensive border control system, to identify and verify documents as well as the document holder. Such system need to reliably register and manage all entry and exit data, while interfacing with third parties on a local as well as international level to exchange information. 

Let’s get some idea of the scale of the project. The new management systems were distributed nationwide to 11 provinces and 177 districts, to all 13 airports, to a total of 44 land, river and sea borders and to 45 embassies and consulates worldwide. In order to accomplish this task with the smallest possible time schedule and in cooperation with local companies, Mühlbauer established its own business location in the capital Maputo, staffed with 60 employees, to handle contract delivery, ongoing technical support and training. More than 800 government employees have been trained to be empowered to operate and maintain the highly sophisticated systems. The complete solution was delivered in just 6 months and put into full operation within impressively short 12 months after signing the contract.

The enrollment system can be operated online and offline (depending on network availability). Muehlbauer IT and software products and system observe the highest security standards regarding data transfer and data management. The implemented solution consists of four independently operable databases (citizen data, foreigner data, travel documents and border management), for four designated authorities, which are all interlinked and interoperable for national security and information purposes. The embassies and consulates of Mozambique have been enabled to issue biometric identification cards, electronic travel documents, biometric emergency travel documents for all citizens of Mozambique, as well as Visa to foreign visitors. 

To further improve the services rendered, the Government of Mozambique is now expanding its solution to include an eVisa portal. In close cooperation with Mühlbauer, the paper-based system is to be supplemented and replaced. Until now, a traveler applying for a visa has to fill out the necessary paperwork and then send it by mail or physically take it to the local embassy or consulate. The embassy or consulate would thereupon review the documents, process the request, and issue successive the Visa. This process takes a lot of time and makes it burdensome to create a visa.

The Muehlbauer eVisa Solution uses the latest technologies and allows the applicant to create an account online. The responsive web-based portal is running in various standard browsers (Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome) and on standard operating systems (Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS) and respectively on desktop PCs, tablets and mobile phones. After creating the account, the applicant is asked to enter personal data, upload a face image and supporting documents – including a Passport scan – and perform online payment or register already performed payment based on the receipt. This secured and multi-lingual portal is separated from the main Visa system to reduce its appeal to hackers and thus protect against potential attacks. The application will then be submitted to the Central Visa system for approval. When the application is processed, the applicant will be informed via eMail and receives an approved Preliminary eVisa Document or the Application Rejection Letter in case of a negative decision. The last and only step, which requires physical attendance, is the personalization of the eVisa. On arrival at the airport, land border or at the embassy, the enrollment officer pre-fetches the application from CMS, checks pre-enrolled data and captures additional applicant’s data. During this process, the data on the identification document and the eVisa are checked for authenticity by comparing them with existing databases. After successful verification, the approved Visa or Visa stickers are handed out to the applicant. The customizable and fully responsive system supports all 15 Visa types, such as Business visa, Visit visa, Tourism visa, Residence visa, Student visa and Transit visa, and can be extended if needed. 

With its simplified handling and fast data transfer, the state-of-the-art Visa solution from Muehlbauer ensures user-friendly application and prevents long queues at border crossings and authorities. With the pandemic not yet over, the mainly digital visa issuance is a particular step forward for Mozambique. This not only makes official processes easier for every resident and applicant, but also provides greater health security and one less platform for the virus to spread. The MB eVisa system is scheduled to go live in fall 2021. All the newly implemented solutions make the Southeast African country a pioneer in digital identification.