Passport office clarifies $200 fee


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE Passport Office yesterday defended its decision to levy a $200 fee to those seeking to obtain a Bahamian passport within 48 hours on an emergency basis, saying the charge will compensate the office for the costs incurred by emergency requests caused by poor planning or “negligence”.

The Passport Office added that only a limited number of people will be affected by the decision.

In a statement released yesterday, the office justified its reasons for implementing the fee, such as dealing with persons “who chronically lose their passports, largely through negligence,” as well as dealing with last minute applicants who booked expensive trips without realising their travel document was expired.

The Passport Office also criticised DNA Leader Branville McCartney for suggesting that the government was “cashing in” on its inefficiency by implementing the fee.

The office said Mr McCartney’s statements were “patently misleading and untrue. Further branding his comments as “disappointing”, the Passport Office said the “realities” of the country’s current resources dictate what it “can reasonably do without breaking the bank”.

“The statements and assertions by (Mr McCartney) on the fee for emergency passports are patently misleading and untrue. The emergency fee does not apply to any person who

applied for a passport before July 1, 2015. It is not cashing in on the public. It will affect a very limited number of people. By simply planning ahead, the fee is not applicable.

“The realities of the resources the country has at the moment to deal with these issues dictate what we can reasonably do without breaking the bank.”

The Passport Office said it has been “inundated with requests from people who planned trips costing in the tens of thousands of dollars but did not check to see before they attempted to travel if their $50 passport had expired.”

“They would present themselves to the airport and find out there that the passport expired; then run to the Passport Office and expect the Passport Office to produce the passport within minutes, dropping everything to serve them.”

The statement added: “Sometimes people have been called in on weekends and after hours to fulfil these emergency requests. Inevitably, one of the reasons why people who followed the rules and applied in a timely manner could not and cannot get their passports on time is because of these untimely requests. The fee is meant to compensate the office for the costs incurred.”

“In addition, it is meant also to deal with those who chronically lose their passports, largely through negligence. The department is not in a position to meet the overtime costs without some source of payment.”

The new fee will be placed on applications received after July 1 for those who need their passport within 48 hours, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last weekend.

However, those who have applied before July 1 and were given a certain date for the production of passports will not have to pay the new fee if the passport is needed at short notice.

The regular fee for passport renewal is $50.

There is also a $200 charge in addition to the cost of the passport for anyone who has lost two passports or more within a 12-month period. This fee is not payable where there is medical emergency.

On Monday, Mr McCartney, former state minister of immigration, condemned the move to tax passport applicants who require their documents within a 48-hour period as “third-world mentality”.

Yesterday, the Passport Office said a system has been put in place for applications submitted by July 9 by persons who have travel plans prior to the collection date on their receipt; those whose collection date has expired; and for those persons who have not received the passport and are in urgent need of the document.

These persons are urged to email their information and details of their application to mofacustomerservice@bahamas.gov.bs.

Dedicated staff has been assigned to process the emails, track the application and expedite the application to meet the date of travel or commitment requiring a passport at no additional cost, the office said.

Applicants will then be emailed a new collection date.

The Passport Office also urged the public not to pay any fee to a passport officer other than what has been outlined in the prescribed regulations.


Well_mudda_take_sic 7 years, 8 months ago

Insolent petulant Freddy Boy says: "Don't blame me, blame the customer!" Well Freddy Boy, you must have missed getting the memo that says: "The customer is always right if you want to stay in business!" In your case, Freddy Boy, you had better get things sorted out real fast at that passport office unless you do not want to stay in politics!!


GrassRoot 7 years, 8 months ago

he is Ethopia, or Ougadougou, or London, or South Africa or Washington - you pick - to safe the world. don't bother him with stuff. please!!!


GrassRoot 7 years, 8 months ago

that is a ridiculous statement from an office that is part of the EXECUTIVE branch, i.e. NON-political. so we don't know more than before. the 200 BSD fee is levied arbitrarily some have to pay some don't. The real issue is that there has to be a 200 BSD fee in the first place. There will be many court cases coming up with the net result that the 200 BSD will disappear. good luck.


moncurcool 7 years, 8 months ago

"People planned trips in the tens of thousands of dollars"? Are they serious?


ThisIsOurs 7 years, 8 months ago

Whose poor planning? Your HR department is charged with understanding staffing level requirements. They would have known for an entire year that electronic passports were to become a requirement in 2016. They would also know how many electronic passports they already processed and how many had not come in as yet. Further you cannot arbitrarily insert new fees, doesn't this have to go throughout Cabinet? Thirdly, if you have more work to do, you do not raise fees to account for it, that makes NO SENSE. if you have more work it means more revenue hence more money to pay staff for overtime. Can you imagine private businesses raising fees because customers "inconvenienced" their business by using more services?? ridiculous.


Cobalt 7 years, 8 months ago

How ironic.

Everyone who's complaining are the very same ones who voted for the PLP and Fred Mitchell. You're getting exactly what you voted for Bahamas! You reap what you sow! Deal with it.


ThisIsOurs 7 years, 8 months ago

Can't be "everyone", they got less than 50% of the vote


Guy 7 years, 8 months ago

People lose their passports more than twice in a 12 month period? Seems like a scam to me!


GrassRoot 7 years, 8 months ago

they sell it to the Chinese due to the resemblance on the picture.


sheeprunner12 7 years, 8 months ago

There is NO justification for the present level of inefficiency and corruption at the Passport Office


MonkeeDoo 7 years, 8 months ago

As the Jamaicans say "Is money make da mare gallup" and "Money make da world go round"


GrassRoot 7 years, 8 months ago

well for the Bahamas to be adapted: "Only MORE Money make da world go round"


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