Minister of Justice Ivo Valente said manual passports are being phased out for e-passports after its launch in May 2017.
“The e-passport is different to the manual passport because it uses a chip with a biometric system, high technology that can be used to pass through any international airport,” said Minister Valente in Dili.
He said using the new biometric system is good but expensive so the costs of e-passports have increased to $50 in 10 days, $75 in 3 days and $100 is 24 hours.
The price hike will ensure the government has funds to keep the e-passport system running smoothly and for maintenance of machines.
However, he was aware the new prices may be forbidding to some Timorese so the government working through the Ministry of Social and Solidarity (MSS) will help those who cannot afford to get an e-passport.
“For example, those who are sick and cannot afford one, they can apply for support from the chief of suku stating they are poor and requesting the government to help them,” he said.
Those still using a manual passport will be able to continue to do so for the duration of its validity. After it expires they will be issues with a new e-passport.
On the other hand, National MP Cesar Valente considered this a significant achievement by the Ministry of Justice.
MP Valente added he had received complaints from Timorese using the old passport to travel.
“Some of them, including MPs still use the manual passport to go overseas and sometimes computers cannot detect it. This solution will address this problem,” he said.
Regarding the increase in costs of passports, he said the government has good reason to increase the fees and supports the assistance available for vulnerable people.
Photo: Minister of Justice Ivo Valente says Timor-Leste has begun issuing electronic passports of international standard that will facilitate Timorese travelling overseas
(Source: The Dili Weekly 13 July 2017)