It has been almost a week now since it was discovered that the passport printer at the Immigration Department was malfunctioning. It is a situation that does not have any immediate remedies and so the powers that be had to come up with an alternative system in honor to honor the applications coming in. Love News spoke with Chief Executive Officer, Edmund Zuniga who explained how the matter is being handled.
“I wouldn’t say that the 6 to 8 month period is totally accurate. What has happened is that our printer, the machine that actually prints the data page of the passport has malfunctioned and so it would not be proper to continue issuing those same machine readable passports if they were not printed properly. So what we are doing is that for persons who need to travel urgently we are issuing temporary passports. We are putting in place for those persons who already have a passport but the passport would have expired we are putting in place an extension system instead of issuing a renewed passport until we can get our system back up. We are looking at anywhere between three to six months. Well you know that our passport system was already outdated, obsolete and so we are actually looking forward to a new passport system but if we can get the printing aspect of it repaired or replaced in the mean time we get the new passport system. Those temporary passports will be accepted by other countries; what we are also doing as we speak is to notify our missions abroad and other embassies of this situation here in Belize so that our Belizeans have no difficulty getting in and out of other countries using a temporary passport. They would have to be regular issuance because of course the express passports are for regular passports. The temporary passports depending on the reasons for travel we always make arrangements for persons to get them. Temporary passports are cheaper; bear in mind that we are also going to be doing extensions of expired passports instead of issuing a passport we are going to be putting on a sticker or a stamp which is going to tell the other country that that passport has been extended for a certain period.”
As CEO Zuniga mentioned, the consulates abroad have been informed and travelers using the temporary passport should have no issues at ports of entry.