It has been announced that Turkey is to introduce new biometric passports starting in November 2016. The introduction of the biometric passports in Turkey has come in response to demands from the European Union to grant a visa waiver to Turkish citizens. The introduction of the biometric passports is the last remaining criteria that the Turkish authorities are required to meet.
The new passports will contain microchips with biometric, fingerprint data as well as personal information including passport number and birthplace.
There has recently been tension between the EU and Turkey accusing Turkey of refusing to alter its counter terror laws. Turkish citizens will have until the end of the year to change their passports which will allow them to benefit from visa-free access to the European Union assuming that an agreement can be reached on the counter terrorism issues.
Visa liberalization has been one of the main parts of the deal between Turkey and the European Union as part of the efforts to encourage Turkish cooperation in addressing the refugee crisis which is taking hold across Europe. Immigration and the refugee crisis has been billed as one of the key reasons for Britain to vote the leave the EU back in June and the EU have been working hard to reach an agreement with Turkey on best to deal with the crisis. Furthermore, the step towards visa free travel is seen as another step towards the acceptance of Turkey to EU membership. Whilst the biometric passports take Turkey one step further towards visa free travel across the Schengen area the dispute between the two parties over the anti-terrorism laws has so far led to deadlock and is delaying the instigation of visa free travel to the frustration of many Turkish citizens hoping to take advantage of the promised liberalisation and ease of movement to the European Union. There is currently no fixed date for the deal to be enacted.