NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As long lines often snake around the passport office during peak periods and many have lamented the tedious application process, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Darren Henfield said the government is examining the idea of having the office relocated.
They are also in the process of completing its online system to receive applications, he said.
“It is intolerable that Bahamians will have to stand in long lines in the 21st Century to simply get a passport, and we are working actively in the ministry to resolve and mitigate this situation as it stands now,” Henfield told reporters before heading to Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
“We are looking potentially at providing another space that would alleviate the burden currently felt and experienced by the one, single-standing building that we have to do everything concerning passports.
“Perhaps we would look at a place to make your applications and another place where you can go to receive your passports.”
Henfield said the government is also working on its online system, which is expected to be up and running within the next two weeks.
Once implemented, Henfield said Bahamians would be able to fill out an application for renewal online, which will decrease the burden placed on the passport office and its very small staff.
In recent weeks, chaos erupted at the post office after irate applicants complained about long wait times, some claiming that only a certain amount of applications were being processed on a daily basis.
But yesterday, Henfield surmised that the influx is the result of persons who are renewing their passports after a period of 10 years, rather than new applicants.
Henfield also noted that while many persons have complained about the number of documents needed to verify Bahamian status, the request is necessary.
“All Bahamians born before 1973 are automatically Bahamian citizens. There are others who came after and you have to show proof of birth. Are we being onerous and burdensome to Bahamians [by asking for proof]? Well, that is a matter of opinion.
“Each case is seen on a case-by-case basis and in certain circumstances, the individual at the passport office, whoever is processing the application, determines if more verification is required.”
Meanwhile, Henfield admitted that record keeping at the passport office could be improved. This, he said, would make it much easier for a technical person at the office to process a passport renewal application.