Ghanaians who want to acquire their passports in a shorter time can now do so as government has commissioned a new Premium Passport Application Center.
The new center which is located at the Accra Digital Center will enable applicants go through the registration process within 30 minutes at an additional charge of Ghc 50.
The move is a collaboration between government and international company, VFS Global, to address the cumbersome processes which have characterized passport applications in Ghana.
Speaking to Citi News at the commissioning of the facility, Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said similar facilities will be established in other parts of the country to make passport acquisition more convenient.
“The Ministry is still committed that additional passport offices are established in each region to ensure that each Ghanaian has easy access to apply for their passport in every regional capital in Ghana without necessarily travelling outside their respective regions. It is against this backdrop that the ministry through the approval of cabinet has engaged the services of VFS Ghana Limited a specialized business process outsourcing agency to provide front offices for receiving online passport application. This is aimed at providing the Ghanaian public the option of improving with respect to online passport application in a seamless convenient manner.”
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey also outlined the process by which Ghanaians who want to use the premium services will have to undergo.
“Passport applicants who want to use this service, will go through the vetting and do their passport applications as usual. They will fill the form online, be vetted and then be given an appointment date. Afterwards, all their data will be captured and then they will make payment of Ghc50 and Ghc100 for standard and the premium services respectively”.
“It is just another passport office just like the one we have at the old ministry of foreign affairs office. Everything will be done so it goes through the superior vetting at the regional office and then he passport booklet are issued. So, it is the same process we have at our passport offices. This is to give Ghanaians many more options to acquire their passports”, she added.
Passport forms now only available online; no more shortages – Gov’t
In November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration announced that Ghanaians can now only acquire passports forms online.
This change was announced among what appears to be a series of reforms in the acquisition of passports.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the forms which used to cost between GHC50 and GHC100 and mostly sold in the banks, will now be free.
In spite of the new development, applicants only have to bear the cost of processing fee at GHc 50 and GHc100 for regular and express services respectively.
It is unclear if this really constitutes free, seeing that the same amounts will be paid.
Also, the statement makes no mention of changes in how applicants photographs would be taken, which means after filling out the forms, they will still need to visit the passport office to take their photographs.
The statement is also not clear about efforts to reduce the time it takes for applicants to pick up their passports, a situation that made it easy for middlemen to extort from applicants for quick delivery of their passports.
The Ministry said the changes, which took effect Thursday, November 1, 2018, is to “eliminate middlemen popularly known as ‘Goro boys’ whose illegal activities have perpetuated bribery and corrupt activities in passport acquisition processes.”
Payment of the processing fees will now be made through mobile money platforms and through other electronic payment platforms.
“Payment can only be made by mobile money (MTN, Vodafone) and Visa or MasterCard,” the statement stated.