Passport Office urging Bahamians to take advantage of slow period
NASSAU, The Bahamas — Officials at the Passport Office are urging Bahamians to take advantage of the slow period after the summer rush and before the Thanksgiving and Christmas rush, and apply for the Machine Readable Passport or e-Passport.
This plea also comes as Bahamians are being required to produce a current or valid passport when voter registration drive is announced for the next General Election.
“We are happy to say that we are meeting our objective in New Providence after the summer rush. We are producing our passports now within 14 days,” said Donald Cash, Undersecretary at the Passport Office.
During a three-month period – June, July and August – 9,725 applicants enrolled and 12, 278 ePassports were issued in New Providence. In Grand Bahama, 2,124 applicants enrolled and 2,155 ePassports were issued. In Miami, Florida, 282 Bahamians applied and 229 ePassports were issued.
“We were able to implement a two-shift system to meet the challenges of the peak period here at the Passport Office, which lasted from May to the end of August,” Mr Cash said.
“In implementing those two sift systems; we were also able to meet the demands of New Providence, Grand Bahama, the Family Islands, and the Overseas Missions.”
There are nine missions: Miami, Atlanta, Washington, D. C., New York, Canada, London, China, Cuba and Haiti. Bahamians are processed in those areas but all passports are printed at the main Passport Office in New Providence.
Mr Cash appealed to the public that as they prepare to enrol for the ePassport, to bring in photocopies, as well as their original documents; three recent photographs, NIB card, and other relevant documents to verify that they are Bahamians.
“This would help us to move swiftly their documents through the system so that they can get their passport in an efficient manner,” he said.
He also advised that the Passport office is no longer issuing Certificate of Identification on a two-page document. Rather, a black booklet is produced with the relevant features and is issued for five years at a cost of $25. The applicant is advised to provide all relevant documents when applying.
Chief Passport Officer Franklyn Dames said another reason to get the ePassport is that it is becoming more convenient to have the ePassport should you travel beyond the United States, as most countries have in place facilities to read the electronic document.
In this vein, he appealed to Bahamians to collect their ePassport; some have been completed since 2008.
Mr Dames commended the staff at the Passport Office for their dedication and hard work in meeting the demands.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), of which The Bahamas is a member, has mandated that by 2010, all countries must begin issuing Machine Readable Passports or E-passports.
Since the inception of the E-passport in December, 2007, more than 100,000 documents have been produced. The modern passport is being upgraded to a more secure one – with biometrics features, including facial characteristics, and fingerprinting. Each E-passport holder is required to have a National Insurance Number in order to facilitate the new passport.
Bahamas Information Services