Passport application online; process will save time, effort

Kathmandu, November 23

Nepal has formally started online application system for passport issuance, which considerably reduces the time applicants need to wait to get the document.

Department of Passport today issued the first passport through online application process to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa at a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“This is a watershed in Nepal’s passport distribution history,” DPM Thapa said after collecting his passport within 15 minutes of its online application.

Initially, only diplomatic and official passport holders can apply through the online process. This system will be within the common man’s reach after one week.

At least 50 live enrollment centres (LECs) have been or are in the process of being set up at Nepali Embassies and missions in eight countries Kuwait, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, Hong Kong and China as well as the DoP headquarters.

MoFA and a French security firm Oberthur Technologies had sealed a deal to install at least 50 LECs to start online application in July.

According to DPM Thapa, online application will kick off in these countries as well by December 1. Then, passport applicants living in these countries can visit LECs, fill up their forms online and send them directly to the Kathmandu-based DoP for further processing.

This system will help avoid the weeks or even months of travel time to receive passport forms from these countries, ultimately reducing passport issuance duration significantly, DPM Thapa added.

Meanwhile, DoP has announced reduction in passport issuance and dispatch time. Now it will issue passports within 5 days through emergency service which required at least seven working days earlier.

Similarly, it will dispatch issued passports within five days of receiving applications from various diplomatic missions abroad. It used to take at least seven working days for the same earlier.

Likewise, it will also dispatch passports within 10 days after it receives applications from various districts, which used to require at least 15 working days before.

The online application (also known as live enrollment system) has started at a time when Nepal is about to fully adopt a smart-passport regime by replacing all hand-written passports into Machine Readable Passports.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN specialised agency, which frames the policy of international aviation regime, has set November 24 as cut-off date to replace all hand-written passports for its over 190 member-states, including Nepal.

The international travel of those who fail to convert their old document will be affected after the ICAO deadline.DPM Thapa informed that more than 38 lakh MRPs have been issued since its introduction on December 26, 2010.

And, among the total MRPs, more than 17 lakhs were converted from previously issued hand-written ones. It is estimated some 50,000 people are still holding hand-written passports.

A temporary passport with up to nine-month validity will be issued for those who missed converting their document into MRPs by November 24 (tomorrow), as an option, to facilitate their foreign travel, according to DPM Thapa.