GOB launches electronic passport system

Monday, October 24th, 2022


On Monday, October 24th, the Government of Belize (GOB), through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Immigration, launched the Electronic Passport Issuance and Control System (EPICS) and E-Passports. This upgrade in the immigration department is to end required visits to the main offices in Belmopan, where applicants often stand in line for hours. The system will also address the issue of backlogs delaying the issuance of passports. The new passport application process is moving almost entirely online, requiring one visit to the data capture site and another to the issuance center to pick up the passport.
Minister in charge of the Immigration Department, the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, explained that the EPICS system would have one central issuing site in Belmopan and seven data capture sites across the country, including San Pedro Town. The others include the towns of Corozal, Orange Walk, Punta Gorda, Dangriga, and the cities of Belmopan and Belize. Data for the e-passports will also be collected at seven of Belize’s overseas diplomatic missions. These include London, the United Kingdom, Taipei, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and the missions in the United States cities, starting with the Belize Embassy in Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Coral Gables in the State of Florida.
According to Courtenay, the new passport depicts Belizean landmarks and symbols. Courtenay added that the e-passport has 26 security features, including a microchip elevating the security level and eliminating corruption and fraud.
The Canadian Bank Note Company Limited installed the new system and got it up and running. The new Belizean travel document was designed by a team of personnel from the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations and the National Institute of Culture and History.

E-passport fees
Contrary to a post on social media some weeks ago suggesting higher prices for the new passport, the official prices do not show inflated rates. The Immigration Department’s website https://immigration.gov.bz/passport/passport-fees/ lists the cost for a 10-year e-passport for those ages 16 and above at BZ$50. Child passports under the age of 16 are valid for five years, with a price of BZ$30. The cost to replace a lost or stolen passport is BZ$85 for applicants aged 16 and over. Those under that age pay BZ$55.
For other types of passports, such as an adult emergency e-passport, the fees are BZ$100 and BZ$60 for a child. If you need the passport within 24 hours via the expedited service, there will be an additional fee of BZ$200. This service is only available at the immigration headquarters in Belmopan City.
The ceremony in Belmopan saw Governor General Dame Froyla Tzalam obtaining her e-passport, the first issued in the country. Courtenay added that with the demand for passports in the country, with over 37,000 applicants this year, EPICS is expected to enhance the process by providing speed and security to Belizeans abroad and at home.


 

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