Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 1 News List

In-person applications for passports to begin

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Bureau of Consular Affairs Director-General Thomas Chen gestures during a press conference in Taipei yesterday in which he announced tightened passport application regulations. The upgrade follows an incident last year in which a Chinese national is alleged to have illegally obtained a Republic of China passport.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Starting next Friday, all first-time Republic of China (ROC) passport applicants will be required to apply for passports in person or have their identities verified in advance before they have others handle their applications, the Bureau of Consular Affairs announced yesterday.

The mandatory in-person application system is intended to prevent passport fraud, a problem that could lead to termination of visa-waiver treatment ROC passport holders currently enjoy in other countries and regions, Bureau -Director-General Thomas Chen (陳經銓) said.

Ministry statistics show that about 70 percent of Taiwanese either commission travel agencies or other people to apply for passports on their behalf, a practice the US considers a loophole in passport security, allowing people to obtain fake passports easily.

Under the new system, first-time applicants have to show up in person at any one of the 369 local household registration offices in the cities or counties where they live for identity verification before having their applications processed. First-time applicants can also file applications at the bureau in Taipei or the ministry’s designated offices in Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan and Hualien County.

Seeking to qualify for the US visa-waiver program, the ministry aims for the US Department of Homeland Security to add Taiwan this year to the list of countries for whom the US administration would provide “road maps” to aid in meeting the criteria of the program.

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