March 2013 has brought in new rules for Belize Passport. The application process has been made even more complicated and rigorous to the point of being onerous. Thousands of Belizeans stampeded the passport offices in Belize before the deadline of 1 March 2013 when the single form process was dumped for a multiple form system when complicated vetting procedures. You may want to check out our Belize Passport page for more information.
Here we have curated some of the many news stories in Belize on the new Belize Passport process.
New regulations introduced for passport application
Starting on March 1, 2013 there will be many changes to adhere to when renewing or applying for a new Belizean Passport. The Ministry of Immigration and Nationality recently unveiled the new regulations for the application process. The changes are being implemented in order to facilitate legal travel procedures abroad and to safeguard the validity of the nationality of a person. Passports will only be given out to Belizean nationals. Apart from the new regulations for the application process, there is also a revised application form.
The revised application forms consist of two separate forms, one for minors and one for adults. Minors (anyone below the age of 16) filing for a passport must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, and their passport is valid for five years. Any applicant 16 or older can file independently for a passport which is valid for ten years. Together with the completed application form,the person must submit a certificate of birth along with a form of photo identification; no driver’s licenses will be accepted. Two recent passport size photos must be presented along with a police record, previous passport (with the exception of first time applicants),a form filled by a Class A recommender and a form filled by a Class B recommender. Class A recommenders can be a Justice of the Peace, Minister of Religion, Medical Practitioner, Notary Public or Attorney at Law, while Class B recommenders are Members of the House of Representatives. After the application form is completed, it takes a month to process the request.
Belizean nationals living in the United States of America, United Kingdom and Taiwan can also apply for a Belizean Passport at their respective Belize Foreign Missions situated in Los Angeles California, Chicago Illinois, New York New York, Washington D.C., London and Taipei. Applicants residing in the country can submit applications to passports offices located in Belize City, the city of Belmopan, Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town, San Pedro Town, Dangriga Town or Punta Gorda Town.
For more information or for application forms, persons are welcome to contact the Immigration and Nationality Office San Pedro Branch at 206-2086. They can also visit the office located on Coconut Drive above Scotiabank.
Passport Office flooded to beat technology transition
If you plan to attend the games in Costa Rica you probably intend to make sure your visa requirements are updated in your passport. But today was not the day for a regular visit to the Passport Office. Dozens of Belizeans flocked to the Passport Office in Belize City in a last-minute effort to apply for or renew their travel documents without being subjected to a new set of requirements to be implemented on Friday. As of March first, the Immigration and Nationality Department will be implementing a new system for the application and processing of passports. While the standard processing time, as well as, the applicable fees remains the same, the transition to a modern system will ensure that irregularities within the process are minimal. According to Port Commander Mario Arzu, the new system is designed to guarantee proof of identity and nationality.
Mario Arzu, Port Commander, Immigration & Nationality Dept.
“The application process will just entail the submission of two separate applications depending on whether you’re an adult or you’re a minor. This new process, as opposed to the older process, will require that you use two recommenders for each application whether adult or minor. As opposed to this present process which you only require a Justice of the Peace or a Head of Department, this one will require two sets that we refer to as a Class A or a Class B recommender.”
“It would seem as though there is a frenzy taking place outside of the Passport Office with regards to this impending change. Can you explain to us what is taking place outside at the moment?”
“Well, since the sensitization period commenced on Monday the Belizean public has embarked on trying to beat the deadline to get their passports without having to go through the new application process which should commence tomorrow. Since Monday we have received well above what we generally get on a regular application day. Of course again this may or may not be tied into the fact that we are approaching the Easter season and as well this is our peak period when it comes to passport applications. So I guess the Belizeans are just trying to get their applications in before tomorrow.”
“In terms of the length of the process, from application to issuance, does anything change?”
“No, not necessarily. We are trying to continue to be as efficient with the delivery dates. The twelve days as applied under the previous application process and the twenty days for out-district stations. But we still try to maintain that efficiency of delivery of passports within the specified time.”
“Transitioning from old to new would imply that there is some kind of modernization or improvement with the way the system works with this particular process. How foolproof is it in terms of the securities and what is being sought of each individual applicant?”
“What we intend to do with this new application process is to do, is to achieve two fundamental issues, or two fundamental tenets of what we consider this document should be able to represent. One, that the individual indeed is who they say they are by the supporting documents and the application that they would be submitting and two, that the individual receiving this document is indeed a Belizean national.”
If you are thinking about renewing your passport or applying for one then you should know that there are some new application processes to follow which came into effect today March 1st 2013. According to the Immigration Department new passport regulations will strengthen the application process, ensure that applicants are indeed of Belizean nationality, and remove the gaps that are used by those who try to attain a passport illegally. While the standard time frame for receiving the document remains the same six application forms have been added to the new process, including detailed forms for minors, adults, persons living abroad, and for persons applying for a passport replacement. The same procedure will apply for a renewal of passports.
Another change recorded in the system is that the application forms will now need to be signed by various authorized personnel. For persons under 16 years of age, a recommender must be provided and there are two forms that must be filled out. Form 4-A must be filled out by a Justice of the Peace, minister of religion, medical practitioner, notary public, or an attorney at law. Form 4-B must be filled out by a member of the House of Representatives, chief executive officer in any ministry of the Government, a head of department, or a licensed teacher. Persons 16 years and older must complete forms 3-A and 3-B. For Belizeans living abroad, they must complete form five from the Belize Foreign Mission. Form six is for the declaration of a lost, stolen, or mutilated passport. This particular adjustment applies to section five of the application form, the Authentication of Application.
And just in case you are wondering, application fees for passports have also been revised. For persons 16 years and older, the application fee is $50.00, and $30.00 for minors. For a passport that was lost, damaged, or stolen, the fee is $85.00 for adults and $55.00 for minors. For applications in the case of a medical emergency, the fee is $100 for adults and $60 for minors. For an expedited passport to be processed within 24 hours the fee is $200.00 while the processing within 48 hours is $100; and for processing within 3 to 5 working days it’s $50.00.
The application process for attaining a Belizean passport has been revised and will go into effect as of Friday, March 1, 2013. A countrywide awareness campaign will be launched to inform the public of the new procedures.
Six application forms have been added to the revised process, including specific forms for minors, adults, persons living abroad, and for persons applying for a passport replacement. This procedure will also apply to applications for a renewal of passports. Also, application forms will now need to be signed by various authorized personnel; this particular adjustment applies to section five of the application form, the Authentication of Application.
For persons under 16 years of age, a recommender must be provided and there are two forms that must be filled out. Form 4-A must be filled out by a Justice of the Peace, minister of religion, medical practitioner, notary public, or an attorney at law. Form 4-B must be filled out by a member of the House of Representatives, chief executive officer in any ministry of the Government, a head of department, or a licensed teacher.
Persons 16 years and older must complete forms 3-A and 3-B. For Belizeans living abroad, they must complete form five from the Belize Foreign Mission. Form six is for the declaration of a lost, stolen, or mutilated passport.
Application fees for passports have also been revised. For persons 16 years and older, the application fee is $50, and $30 for minors. For a passport that was lost, damaged, or stolen, the fee is $85 for adults and $55 for minors.
For applications in the case of a medical emergency, the fee is $100 for adults and $60 for minors. For an expedited passport to be processed within 24 hours, the fee is $200; for processing within 48 hours, the fee is $100; and for processing within 3-5 working days it’s $50.
According to Immigration officials, the amendments will strengthen the application process, ensure that applicants are indeed of Belizean nationality, and remove the gaps that are used by those who try to attain a passport illegally.