Bangladeshi missions in UAE hope to update hand-written passports by November
ABU DHABI // Bangladeshi missions in the UAE are hopeful they will be able to update 150,000 old, hand-written passports to be “machine-readable” by the global deadline of November 24.
To date, the Bangladeshi embassy and consulate have delivered 600,000 new machine-readable passports in the UAE to citizens. There are as many as 800,000 Bangladeshis living in the UAE.
Mohammed Husain, a counsellor at the Bangladeshi embassy in Abu Dhabi, said the number of new applicants has declined in recent days as more people complete the process.
“We have a capacity to receive fingerprints of 600 persons a day but nowadays, only 300 to 350 a day turn up to the mission for the purpose. Today we received only 150 new applicants at the embassy,” he said on Sunday.
“There are many people who travel home for holidays and get their passport converted, so there could be about 100,000 to 150,000 still to get new digital passports and this is achievable thanks to our large infrastructure and outsourcing,” Mr Husain said.
By November 24, all handwritten passports must to be converted to machine-readable passports, the deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for phasing out all old documents.
From November 25, no country will accept handwritten passports and those who do not renew before the deadline will not be able to travel. They will also not be able to renew their visas, insurance or Emirates ID in the UAE, Mr Husain said.
Immigration departments in the UAE will not accept handwritten passports after November 24 deadline, Mr Husain said.
“We hope to achieve this target easily but in case a few thousands are left to convert after the deadline, our government can approach the ICAO for some consideration. Even here in the UAE, we would receive applications after deadline, to facilitate our people because we are here for them,” he said.
However, the mission said that it mobilised its community to spread the message.
Mohammed Ibrahim, a maintenance worker in Abu Dhabi, went to the mission on Sunday to submit his documents.
“I didn’t know about the deadline,” Mr Ibrahim said. “My sponsor travelled overseas. He kept my passport so I couldn’t do this. But since my friends told me the seriousness I pushed and got the passport to renew it. Within six weeks I am going to receive the new passport.”
In Bangladesh, the process started in 2007, but did not begin in the UAE until 2010.
The embassy registers biometrics and digital photos and then sends the documents to Dhaka.
The cost for replacement is Dh125 for the labour category; all others cost Dh405. It takes 30 to 40 days to get the new passport when overseas.
If obtained in Bangladesh they will get their new passport within a week.
Muhammad Imran, Bangladesh ambassador to the UAE, said: “Many people who go back renew there. A handful are left in the UAE and we would achieve the target within the specified deadline.”
Updated: May 24, 2015 04:00 AM