India has become the first country in the world to issue a biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID), capturing the facial biometric data of seafarers. The Indian government claims that the new technology is a marked improvement offering enhanced security features. It will make the identification of the BSID holder more reliable and efficient, while protecting their dignity and privacy.
The total number of Indian seafarers who were employed on Indian or foreign flag vessels increased from 154,349 in 2017 to 208,799 this year, an unprecedented increase of 35%. The new document is designed to provide foolproof identification of the country’s seafarers which will facilitate international movement, make getting jobs easier and help in identifying them at any location in the world.
Nine data collection centres have been setup at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Noida, Goa, New Mangalore, Kochi, Vizag and Kandla to issue the biometric SID. Every Indian seafarer who possesses a valid Continuous Discharge Certificate issued by the Government of India will be eligible and it is planned that all existing Indian seafarers will be given a biometric SID within the next two years. After this, it is estimated that around 15,000 new seafarers will be issued with them annually.