MoFA, OT sign deal to set up 50 LECs


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Oberthur Technologies, a French security firm, on Thursday signed an agreement to set up 50 Live Enrolment Centers (LECs) in eight countries within three months, which will facilitate the Department of Passport in Kathmandu oto speed up delivery of machine readable passports to Nepalis living in those countries.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said the LECs would now help meet the November 24 deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a United Nations specialised agency, to replace all remaining handwritten passports with MRPs.

As per the deal, at least 41 LECs will be set up at Nepal's 10 embassies and diplomatic missions in eight countries — Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (two), the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and United States of America (two) as well as in Hong Kong, China, according to Lok Bahadur Thapa, Director General of the Department of Passport.

Besides, at least nine LECs will be set up at Department of Passport in Kathmandu.

Of the total 50 LECs, half of them will be installed at the missions and DoP, and rest will be set up as mobile ones so that they can be relocated and moved around depending upon the demand and number of applicants.

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 DoP for further processing. This will avoid the existing weeks or even months of travel time to receive passport forms from these countries, ultimately reducing the passport issuance duration significantly.

With ICAO deadline only about four and a half months away, time is running out for Nepal to replace all the remaining old handwritten passports with MRPs, failing to do so would disqualify those holding old passports from making international travels.