The Government of Guyana has announced plans to issue a new top-tier passport that will now have 48 pages and be valid for 10 years – much longer than the current five-year expiry date, and which can see many Guyanese enjoying hassle-free travel and transit through many more countries abroad.
Efforts are also being made to allow for the new e-Passport to be issued in under 24hrs – being within just one day; – a service that will place Guyana at the forefront of passport issuance, compared to its Caribbean counterparts.
According to Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, the new e-Passport will also carry a digital data chip, which is a common feature in modern passports and also provides for improved security.
The new passport is expected to become available later next year, once all systems have been put in place for its production.
With some countries already granting visa-free access to holders of an e-Passport, it is widely expected that Guyanese who have the new e-Passport will be able to gain easier travel to more than a dozen other countries, and would also see faster and easier transit at airports predominantly in Europe.
However, Minister Felix had explained in his budget submission before parliament, that not every Guyanese will be able to obtain the new type of passport.
In order to obtain the new ePassport, a person would have to be a well-established business operator, a member of the judiciary, a senior government official, parliamentarians, or a person who is considered (by way of the appropriate evidence) to be a frequent traveller.
For those not fitting either of those categories, the existing 5-year passport will be issued to them.
A person whose passport was either lost or stolen, and is seeking a replacement, would also not be able to apply for the new ten-year passport. In other words, the applicant must be in possession of their most recent passport, and which must be presented, before they can apply for the new 10-year biometric passport.
While the fee for the current five-year passport will remain the same, the new ten-year e-Passport will be issued for a fee of $10,000.