By: CeasefireLiberia Staff Reporter
A new biometric passport has been launched in Liberia that will replace the old. The new one will continue to be valid until April 30, 2010.
There will be four categories of new Liberian biometric passports: Diplomatic Passports will now have black covers; Ordinary Passports will have green covers; Service Passports with red covers; and the Official ones with brown covers.
The Constitution of Liberia provides for the free movement of every Liberian citizen, and it entitles every Liberian a Liberian passport. All Liberians are entitled to ordinary passports without discrimination while Official, Diplomatic and Service passports are special privileged passport our source explained.
According to Liberia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Olubanke King-Akerele, the new biometric Liberian passports are being introduced in order to put Liberia on par with all other countries the world over to meet the global requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Compliant Machine Readable Passports.
Minister King-Akerele, speaking at the official launch of the Machine Readable ICAO Compliant Liberian National Passports said Liberians should begin processing their new application requests for the new passports now because it is being used at any port of entry worldwide.
“You will not be able to enter any country’s point of entry by next year if you don’t obtain this new passport. So please begin processing your new passport requests,” the Minister said.
She said already, a number of data collection points are being set up at designated embassies around the world for the processing of the new Liberian passports and noted that applicants may continue to use their current passports until the data collection points are set up.
The current cost of the new machine readable ICAO compliant Liberian National Passport will be issued at the price of US$50, up US$30 from the current fees charged.
But providing some background information as to how the price of the new passport came about, Minister King-Akerele said there was an agreement for the current Liberian national passport that was signed between the Republic of Liberian and Bradwell Group in London, United Kingdom in 1997 to produce the various categories of passports.
“Accordingly, we have had to set the price for the new passports to take into account the financial obligations that we are faced with. Obligations that were not the doing of the current government but we met and we have to oblige and meet those requirements,” she stated.
Minister King-Akerele said her Ministry had to work out a system in terms of the cost of the passports that has brought the price to US$50 for the new passports, including the fingerprinting.
The new Ordinary Passports will be valid for five years while the new Diplomatic and Official Passports shall be issued for two years, consistent with existing guidelines , and the Service Passports shall be issued for one or two years, depending on the mission for which they are being issued.
The new passports will take about seven to 14 working days to process. When the passports need to be renewed, one will need to complete a new application form and a new passport will be issued at the same price of US$50, instead of a renewal stamp. The Minister however, did not say what would happen to those Liberians currently residing abroad who already have the Old Liberian Passports that are yet to expire.
Meanwhile, Mrs. King-Akerele made it clear that Liberians abroad can no longer send their documents and have a passport processed by a relative or friend. She stressed that if a family member sends his/her passport it will not be processed because the applicant will have to be fingerprinted for the new Liberian passport. She said that the fingerprinting is to enhance security of the new Liberian passport.
Mrs. King-Akerele reiterated that the Liberian Government remains fully committed to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its Conventions and Protocols to which the government has played significant role in the signatory of.
She noted that part of those Convention and Protocols calls for the various ECOWAS countries to adopt the ECOWAS passports. Citing the sacrificial role ECOWAS has played in bringing peace to Liberia, she reminded the audience that Government is well aware of those obligations having been one of the first countries to launch the ECOWAS passports in 2007.
The ECOWAS biometric passport only costs US$23.
The Story was Originally Published on CeaseFireLiberia.com