Estonia will begin issuing passports of the unified European format as of May 1, 2005. Estonia's Minister of Internal Affairs, Margus Leevo, made the announcement after meeting with colleagues from other EU nations.
The Estonian newspaper Eesti Paevaleht reports that the new Estonian citizen's passport will have a wine-colored cover in place of the now blue cover, and will come with a built-in microchip, containing biometric information of the owner. Initially, the chip will only carry an electronic photograph of the passport's owner. According to Margus Leevo, passports issued before May 1, 2005 will remain effective until their stated expiration date, and will be equal to the new passports.
Apart from passports, Estonian citizens can also use ID cards to travel within the EU. After Estonia becomes a member of the Schengen agreement in 2007, citizens will be able to travel within the EU without showing documents. Estonia had originally planned to issue the new EU format passports no earlier than 2007.
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