LECs to be set up in eight countries to expedite MRP delivery

Once the system comes into operation, we will be able to issue MRPs within two weeks

— Lok Bahadur Thapa, Director General, Department of Passport


The government is all set to install at least 50 Live Enrolment Centres (LECs) in eight countries within three months to speed up delivery of machine readable passports.

The LECs will be set up at various locations of Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America as well as in Hong Kong, China, where there is a huge presence of Nepalis, said Lok Bahadur Thapa, Director General of the Department of Passport.

A few mobile LECs will also be installed — to be operated through vans in countries like Saudi Arabia — in order to encourage Nepali migrants working there to swiftly convert their handwritten passports into MRPs, Thapa added.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has set November 24 deadline to replace all existing handwritten passports with machine readable ones.

Once the system is introduced, passport applicants living in these countries can visit the LECs, fill up their forms online and send them directly to the Kathmandu-based Department of Passport (DoP) for further processing. Installation of LECs will help avoid the existing weeks — or even months — of travel time in receiving passport forms from these countries, ultimately reducing the passport issuance duration significantly.

“Once the system comes into operation, we will be able to issue MRPs within two weeks,” Thapa said. “The applicants living abroad can get their documents within a month.”

According to him, currently it requires one to two months — depending upon the countries from where Nepalis apply for MRPs — only to receive the MRP forms. This time-consuming process ultimately delays the delivery of the MRPs. As a result, an applicant has to wait for two to three months since the date of application to receive his/ her MRP.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) had recently signed a deal with the Oberthur Technologies, a French security firm which has been supplying passports to Nepal for last four years, to further deliver at least additional 2.5 MRPs within next two years and install some 50 LECs in eight countries at a cumulative cost of US$ 12.225 million (approximately Rs 1.23 billion). Officials said the approximate cost of the 50 LECs will be about Rs 250 million.

Officials said the LECs would be installed in different parts of the country in the next phase.

MoFA and Oberthur Technologies are going to finalise the details of the LECs project, including how many and where this system should be set up, within a couple of days, officials informed.

The Chief Representative of the Oberthur Technologies in Nepal, Siddhartha Raj Pandey, told The Himalayan Times that the French security firm would set up the pledged LECs at all government-selected locations in the eight countries within three months.

During his budget announcement today, Minister for Finance Ram Sharan Mahat said the government would replace all handwritten passports with MRPs and initiate issuing electronic passports within next fiscal year.