Slapped with another lawsuit over a decision to ask new passport applicants to provide a birth certificate that was issued no more than two years before the application for the passport, the Ministry of Home Affairs has now dropped that requirement altogether.
Now a first time applicant for a machine readable Guyana passport would have to provide a birth certificate regardless of its issuance date. In a Wednesday afternoon statement, the Home Affairs Ministry said the new applicant would only be asked to provide the completed application form, one passport sized photograph and the $4000 fee.
Persons who would have already had a machine readable passport and may be seeking a renewal, which would be a new passport, will not be required to provide a birth certificate. They would only need to provide the expired passport and the fee for the new passport since the passport office would have already be in receipt of their birth certificate information from the first time that they would have applied.
In relation to lost/damaged passports, the processing fee is fifteen thousand Guyana ($G$15,00) dollars, and additional conditionalities are required to be satisfied to facilitate issuance.
According to the Ministry, when the machine-readable passport system was first introduced, there was a requirement by the Ministry that the Guyana Police Force would implement an arrangement where members of the public applying for passports for the first time would present to the Immigration Department birth certificates that were issued not more than six (6) months before the date of the application.
That system was not put in place until recently and was immediately objected to by members of the public and a prominent lawyer who moved to the court over the requirement. The court ruled in the favour of that lawyer.
The Ministry then announced a two-year birth certificate requirement but that decision was also challenged in the court and the Ministry reportedly received legal advice that it would have lost that case also.
In its latest statement, the Home Affairs Ministry said, “The Guyana Police Force through its Immigration Department will make all reasonable efforts to expedite the processing of the applications but the five (5) day processing time guaranteed by the Force is not likely to be honoured because of the need for a more robust verification process to accompany the production of the Travel Document.”