In a milestone for the country, Zimbabweans can now apply and pay for newly-introduced e-passport online as the booking system has now gone live. The online passport application system is capable of serving 20 people every 20 minutes. Applicants using the online platform similarly pay US$120 for an ordinary passport and US$220 for an emergency document.
An Express Passport Office Centre has since been opened at the Registrar-General’s Office in Harare to specifically handle online applications. It is believed that the process of applying and collecting a passport can be done in 48 hours compared to seven days for those who apply in person. Manager of the Express Passport Office Centre Mr. Terence Mutemararo told The Sunday Mail that the online application system sought to eliminate congestion at passport offices.
“When the e-passports were launched last year, it was made clear that they will be two categories of applications: One with a seven-day turnaround which we started with and now we have introduced the Express Centre that issues passports in 48 hours from the time of applications,” he said.
The Express Passport Office Centre is considered convenient to the elderly, persons with disabilities, and those who need emergency passports. “The main purpose of the Express Centre is to bring convenience to those who need emergency passports. There are a lot of people that might be working but their time is limited, so they can simply book a time and get the passports at their earliest time of convenience.
“The major purpose of the online booking is to de-congest this place and make sure that people come at their accorded time slots. It is capable of serving 20 people every 20 minutes given the number of booths we have and the number of people serving inside,” he said.
The Sunday Mail put the online passport system to a test and was able to easily access the website (expresscentrezw.com), which readily gives instructions on available booking schedules.
It also gives an applicant further instructions to complete the application process. The online booking system will also be decentralized to other parts of the country as well as in the Diaspora for collection of the passports, officials say.
Acting Registrar-General Mr. Henry Machiri said everything was on course to ensure e-passports were obtained from all the country’s 10 provinces by the end of June. Bulawayo offices are being refurbished and people will start applying for e-passports in the country’s second-largest city in a few weeks. “In terms of Bulawayo, the technicians are working flat-out and before the end of this month Bulawayo will now be issuing e-passports,” he said. – The Sunday Mail