PETALING JAYA - Malaysians who cross over into Thailand using border passes will be issued a travel document in the form of a book resembling a Malaysian passport beginning early next month.
The Malaysia-Thailand border pass, used by Malaysians especially in Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis and Perak (only in Hulu Perak region), is currently in the form of paper and easily damaged.
While the Malaysian passport is red, the new border pass will be blue.
The cover will feature the national emblem with the words "Malaysia" and "Border Pass" embossed in gold.
Immigration Department security and passport director Ibrahim Abdullah said the new border pass was aimed at enhancing its quality and security features.
The new passes were expected to be issued from Sept 2 at Pengkalan Hulu (Kroh), Perak, before being extended to other areas in the four states, involving 19 Immigration offices.
"The book format has a hard cover similar to the Malaysian passport. The pages are also of better quality. The front page in this new pass has numbers that are recognised by the 'Machine Readable Zone' (MRZ) which cannot be duplicated," he said in an mStar Online interview.
The MRZ feature is used by most international passports according to the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
"The MRZ serial number on the new border pass would be scanned using the same machines as those for passports," Ibrahim said.
Application fee for the new border pass, which will come with 16 pages, remains at RM10.
"The biodata page has stickers containing personal information," he said, adding that details of children below 12 could also be included.
The new pass includes travel to provinces in south Thailand such as Satun, Songkhla, Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani.
The department expects to issue 500,000 new passes this year.
The validity of the pass has also been extended from six months to one year.