By Drishti Silwal
The Department of Passports had kaunched biometric passport issuing the first such passport to 102 -year-old historian Satya Mohan Joshi on November 17, 2021. The digital passport was handed over by Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka to Joshi amidst a function at the department’s new building in Tripureshwor.
E-passports replaced the existing machine-readable passports (MRP). With this the department’s office has been relocated from Narayanhiti to Tripureshwor. The new passports are printed by French company IDEMIA.
In the world, Nepali passports today rank 106th position ahead of 110th position it secured had until October 2021, according to the report published in the Henley Passport Index.
“The issuance of new passports will change Nepal’s status in the Index as they are one of the best passports in Asia in terms of security, design and other features,” remarked Dornath Aryal, director general at the Department of Passports during the time of inauguration of E-passports.
It has been more than 3 months since the department has started distributing E-passport. However, there is still problem in crowd management outside the department of Passport as a large number of people queue daily to acquire the digital passport. There are many applicants waiting on a queue to get an E-passport. Many applicants come earlier at around 4-5 am and wait for 6-7 hours to get their turn. THis is happening mainly due to the limited supply and high demand for the e-Passport.
In case of emergency, Fast Track Service is available only from the Passport Department in Tripureshwor Kathmandu. In ordinary case, the applicants can apply for the passport from their respective districts. The applicant has to fill online form, take the provided date, and download it. Prepare other supporting documents showing the urgency of passport. Visit the Director General or Director’s office to shift the date. Then the applicant is required to deposit Rs. 12000 in cash. The applicant must take the original copy of citizenship and the National Identity Card. The department will then collect photograph and biometric details of the applicant.
The passport is ready within 2 working days after filling out the form. The applicant can collect the passport after receiving a SMS from the Department. In case of no SMS received, one can go and get information in the Inquiry section of the Department. In most cases, passports are ready for collection.
The department has been facing various challenges while shifting to biometric passports. Since, everything is being digitalized, it is becoming challenging to adapt with the new technology. Small details have to be verified as most of the applicants make minor mistakes, which lengthens the overall process.
People cannot apply for E-passports without the National Identity Card’s number. So, it has lengthened the process for applicants as well. Some of the applicants who genuinely require urgent passports has to also wait in the queue to deposit the cash and provide their details.