KATHMANDU, August 1
The government is considering issuing passports with only five years’ validity for children and the elderly, instead of the existing 10 years’ validity.
It has planned to issue such limited-validity passports at half of the existing cost of Rs 5,000.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Department of Passport came up with the idea after assessing that most elderly persons acquired passports to go abroad only once or twice.
In the case of children, their facial appearances change so quickly that the pictures attached in their documents do not match with their looks over a decade.
Many people had suggested issuance of passports with different validity periods, given the fact that those about 70 to 80 years of age do not need passports with longer validity.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said, “We need to review the 10-year validity and focus on issuing passports with limited validity at lesser charge.”
However, the government is yet to take any decision to this effect and has been holding consultations on ways to implement such provision.
Officials opined that such passports would be better for children under 16 years and people above 70 or 75 years of age.
Lok Bahadur Thapa, Director General at Department of Passport, said that this policy might cut government passport revenue if it was implemented, but would serve the larger interest of many elderly and children.
Most elderly people procure passports for health check-up, tourism, or to attend their children’s convocation, among other functions, in foreign lands.
The existing passport regulations should be amended in order to implement this policy. Since the reduction in passport fee is a matter of revenue, consent from the Ministry of Finance is also necessary before getting a final nod from the Council of Ministers.
Minister Pandey said that he was trying to execute this policy as soon as possible. “If we fail to do so now, we will start issuing such passports once we go for a fresh international bidding to supply Nepal’s passport booklets,” he added.
Recently, the government had extended a deal to supply Nepal’s passports with the French security firm Oberthur Technology for an ‘interim’ period of two years.
Nevertheless, the Foreign Minister said the government would begin a process for fresh bidding shortly.
The government has also planned to increase the number of pages in the passport. Nepal’s passport has only 32 pages and many frequent fliers have asked that the number of pages be increased.
A version of this article appears in print on August 02, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.