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Gov’t Opens 20 Passport Centers

by News Manager

MONROVIA: The Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on February 23, 2023, launched 20 new passport application Centers.

Speaking at the launch, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said it is the obligation of the Government of Liberia to ensure that passport application and processing are brought to the doorstep of every Liberia national who needs a passport to travel or otherwise.

He disclosed that the new centers collaborate with VFS Global to work out modalities in making sure that passports are brought to the doorstep of every Liberian.

Speaking at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), where the launching ceremony was held, Ambassador Kemayah named the countries where the passport application Centers will be located as Atlanta, USA; Huston, Optra, Toronto, Viscera, Brazil, Turkey, Spain, and Italy.
He named others as Sweden, Holland, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, UAE, Senegal and Egypt.
According to the Minister, the benefits of the new centers would be increased revenue for Government of Liberia for national development; easy access of passports for Liberian citizens in areas where Liberia does not have consular, and citizens’ rights to Passport is fulfilled.

He added: “As you are fully aware, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has embarked on several reforms, some of which include the opening of additional Passport Application Centers (PACs) in places where the need exists.”

Kemayah further said: “The decision to accelerate the opening of passport application centers around the world is the vision of President George Weah to ensure accessible and affordable comprehensive services; including, but not limited to passport and other consular-related services to all Liberians; irrespective of geographic location, political, social, ethnic, religious and economic background.”

The Minister added that many Liberian citizens who need to legalize their residency requirements in their host countries are in possession of outdated or expired passports.

The Dean of the Cabinet said in the absence of passport application centers, it has been difficult and almost impossible to secure their national identity documents to be able to regularize their statuses in their host countries.

He stressed: “The recent law that grants dual citizenship to Liberians has seen a rise in requests for Liberian passports for various personal reasons from all places where Liberians are located.”

Minister Kemayah added: “Cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the Passport Application Centers to Liberians to benefit from the PACs and the Government of Liberia.

For instance, US$60.00, including coverage for DHL/Courier Service versus US$100.00 without coverage for DHL/Courier Service, which the Government has to cover.”

Minister Kemayah further explained that at the Foreign Ministry, they have considered months ago to engage the Passport Contractor, Buck Press, on how to go about ensuring access and affordability to services that will allow Liberians in the diaspora to acquire passports.

“The Ministry, through the passport Contractor, Buck Press, agreed to engage the services of the VFS Global, an outsourcing and technology services specialist company that works with several governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, currently operating in 145 Countries; including the United States and in European and other African Countries.

The company manages the administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa, passport and consular services for its clients,” he said.
VFS Global has its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, and Dubai, UAE, and is widely recognized by over 140 governments around the world.

“It is a company that has been contracted and subcontracted by many European governments to handle visa and passport services on behalf of those governments,” he stressed.

“The company,” he said, “was vetted by our security agencies.”

“This company, VFS Global, in its arrangement, will use the licensed software of the passport contractor, Buck Press, to capture only biometrics of passport applicants, which will be transferred directly to the passport office in Monrovia for verification, vetting and personalization of passports. Should applications have problems; the company will arrange zoom services for the Ministry to directly engage the applicants on the supporting documents received.”

He added: “Once passports are completed, VFS Global is also in an arrangement with DHL to pick up the personalized passports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have them delivered to the relevant Liberia Passport Application Centers at the VFS Global locations where the applications were presented.”

He further stated that the company is charging a service fee of US$60 to be further negotiated downwards per application, which will cover processing to the final delivery of the completed passport booklet.

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