The online system at the Passport Office, which seeks to make the application process more seamless, is still in the testing phase and it remains unclear when it will go live, according to Chief Passport Officer Siobhan Deane.
Bahamians seeking to renew their e-passports have been finding it much more difficult, facing long lines, overcrowding and disorganization at the Passport Office, as they now have to provide certain documents that are proving to be onerous for some to obtain.
Deane has said the process is not as seamless as it was before because of the inconsistencies in the information on the documents individuals are bringing in, as well as the lack of due diligence done with the e-passport system when it was initially launched in 2007.
Reportedly, Bahamians have been asked to bring in birth certificates of parents and grandparents in some instances. Some have also been asked to redo affidavits.
Back in March, Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield decried the chaotic process at the Passport Office, calling the situation “intolerable”.
At the time Henfield said the ministry was working on an online system to improve the process.
“I think we’re about less than two weeks away from having something definitive in that regard where Bahamians can be able to go online and renew their passport applications, which will decrease the burden placed on the Passport Office and the small staff and the small environment to produce passports at this rate,” he said.
However when reached for comment on the matter, Deane told The Nassau Guardian, “We are still in the testing stage.
“Right now we are testing the platform renewing e-passports for adults only. The second phase of the platform will be testing renewing passports for children. Once testing is completed we will sit with developers to discuss observations and challenges noted. I cannot say at the moment when we will go live with the online portal. So far everything seems to be working well, but that’s just my observation.”
The Passport Office usually sees increased applications during the summer.
Henfield has urged Bahamians to renew their passports on a regular basis in order to prevent those “extraordinary crowds” during the summer months.