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All you need to know about passport renewal in UAE

2015-07-30 07:35:43

How long does it take to renew your passport here in the UAE? Days? Weeks? Months? Minutes? Yes, apparently in one case, it could take a few minutes, Gulf News has learnt.

Getting a new passport can be arduous for some residents, especially those who need to travel and forgot to renew their travel documents.

While some have to take a day off work to apply for a new passport and receive it days or weeks later, there are those who can get their actual ordinary passport within minutes, and yet others within three business days.

Gulf News contacted 25 missions in the UAE (See full details here) to assess the convenience and efficiency of their consular services in issuing passports. Passport renewal is an integral part of expatriate life in the UAE because many of their transactions and services require a valid passport such as exiting the country or applying to sponsor relatives on a visit to Dubai, among others.

Of the 25 missions Gulf News randomly contacted, it found one mission can issue a passport within 20 minutes — the Italian consulate in Dubai and embassy in Abu Dhabi. “We make it a point to keep people in the consulate in as little time as possible because their time is valuable and so is ours,” Italian Consul-General Giovanni Favilli told Gulf News.

“We fine-tuned the process in a way that does not waste people’s time without compromising on security.”

Favilli said they are able to issue the passports within minutes because unlike many missions, the Italian missions here have the capacity and authority to print the passports locally.

Gulf News randomly checked if the claim was true and spotted Rosetta Valenzisi renewing her passport at the consulate. We were proved wrong. The time it took for her to get her passport was even shorter.

“There was no level of difficulty at all. I just had to fill out the forms and have the right information there. So, all in all, it took 15 minutes, including when I had to run to the cash machine to get money, which took longer than the actual passport renewal. It was very helpful and very straightforward,” Valenzisi, a TV producer in Dubai, told Gulf News.

“It’s incredibly helpful because my passport was about to expire within two weeks and I’m about to travel again. I didn’t realise how quick it would be,” she added.

Valenzisi, who also holds Australian citizenship, said she was surprised because “even in Australia, it doesn’t get issued on the day”. It could take up to three weeks for an Australian passport renewal here.

The Italian consulate issued 1,100 passports in 2014, with an average of four applications per day. The small demand could be a factor in the faster issuance since there are only 10,000 Italians in the UAE. Their passports are valid for 10 years, hence demand to renew is less compared with those who have five-year validity passports or those with bigger populations.

Other missions authorised to print passports locally and can deliver faster are Japan, which takes a maximum of three business days, and India, which takes a minimum of seven working days even with 850 applications per day. Kenya follows closely with processing time and delivery of between seven to 10 days if printed in Dubai, serving an estimated 40,000 Kenyans in the UAE.

The US mission comes fifth in the tally with 10 working days according to their officially published time, although US passports are printed in its home office in the US.

For communities with bigger populations and whose passports are printed abroad it could take from three to four weeks like Pakistan, and up to eight weeks for the UK and the Philippines.

The Pakistan missions handle around 600 applications per day to serve the 1.2 million Pakistanis in the UAE.

The Philippine consulate handles between 250 and 300 applications per day, issuing five-year validity passports and serving an estimated 450,000 Filipinos.

“It takes six to eight weeks because the passports are printed in the Philippines and due to the large volume of applications. The biometrics are captured here and sent electronically to the Philippines. There are 80 foreign missions around the world that apply for their constituents’ passports every day,” Consul Giovanni Palec said.

In the case of Nepal, Ambassador Dhananjay Jha said the application process could take between 30 and 45 days due to the bureaucratic process based on their national policy.

“We collect all the data here and send the documents via diplomatic cargo to Nepal to the Department of Passport twice a month on the 16th and first day of the month. This affects the amount of time it takes to apply and receive a passport since passports can only be printed in Nepal,” Jha told Gulf News.

Sri Lankan Consul-General M.M. Abdul Raheem agreed. Because it takes 30 to 60 days to issue and deliver a Sri Lankan passport, Abdul Raheem said, “It’s beyond our control so I would advise applicants to apply for their passports even three months in advance before the expiry of their passports.”

The Moroccan consulate advises its people to apply at least 18 months before their passport’s expiry, the Philippines at least one year in advance.

To help those with emergency cases, many missions can issue passports on an urgent or fast-track basis like Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, and Finland, among others.

In terms of convenience, almost all the missions Gulf News contacted have made their passport appointments online, although physical appearance for the application is needed to capture the biometric data of the applicant. Many missions only accept cash payments while missions like the US, the UK, China, and Australia have debit and credit card facilities.

In other places where there is instability at times, passport renewal could take up to 12 weeks, but only three to four weeks in normal days as in Egypt. The shift to Machine-Readable passports also affects the time it takes to issue a passport, Consul Abdul Rahim of the Egyptian Consulate said.

The cheapest adult passports are issued by China at Dh120, Bangladesh at Dh125, and Thailand at Dh130 or Dh150.