Ordinary citizens won’t be issued passports from todayThe service has been suspended following a request from the Ministry of Home Affairs, officials said.
The Department of Passports will stop issuing passports to ordinary applicants from Wednesday following a request from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The ministry said the decision was taken to make the distribution fair as people in some areas can’t visit their district administration office, let alone Kathmandu, to apply for their passports due to mobility restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We received a request from the Ministry of Home Affairs today to stop issuing passports to ordinary applicants,” said Ramkaji Khadka, director general at the Department of Passport. “The decision was taken as some people in high-risk areas don’t have access to passport services, which should be equally available to Nepali citizens,” Khadka told the Post.
But the department will continue issuing passports to government officials, members of Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, and the Nepal Army going for peacekeeping missions or any other urgent work abroad.
As of Tuesday, the department had continued to issue passports as per the recommendation made by District Administration Offices.
The ministry said that the service was also halted as it would be difficult for many district administration offices to forward the passport application forms to the Department of Passports, Kathmandu. The department also will be unable to forward issued passports to the district offices for distribution.
The department issued around 200 passports on Sunday and Monday under the urgent quota” especially those applying online for scholarships in foreign universities.
“But the service will be available to those people abroad who apply from foreign through Nepali missions,” Thapa added. “Throughout the lockdown, we have issued over two thousands passports. But it is difficult to send them back due to districts due to flight restrictions,” said Thapa.
Meanwhile, the department has extended the deadline for its tender to supply e-passports tenders until mid-July due to the unavailability of international flights and requests from prospective international bidders.
The department’s stock of machine readable passports (MRPs) is fast running out—it only has half a million passports left.
Earlier the bidding process had been cancelled on November 9 last year after the government decided to set up its own security printing press capable of printing passports. But after failing to do so, the government issued a second bid document for e-passports on May 2.
“Due to the lockdown and the protracted ban on international flights, several prospective international bidders have requested us to extend the deadline as they face several difficulties. So we decided to extend the deadline by one more month,” said Thapa.
Over one dozens foreign firms and companies that have supplied passports to many countries had said they were interested in bidding when a pre-bid meeting was held on March 24 via video conferencing.
According to the bid documents, the winning company shall provide 2 million e-passports, out of which 1.6 million copies will have 32 pages and the rest 64 pages. The additional pages will be provided to frequent flyers.
The new passports, being procured to comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation standards, will come in new shades. According to the bid document, the cover of ordinary passports, which at the moment is green, shall be changed to chocolate-brown. Similarly, diplomatic passports will have a crimson-red cover, official passports navy-blue, and peacekeepers’ passports tiger-orange.
Travel documents will be black, temporary passports chocolate-brown and seaman’s record book slate-brown. The cover page of all passport booklets shall bear a hot foil stamp of the national coat-of-arms.