The government plans to raise the service charge for 10-year electronic passports from NT$1,200 to NT$1,600, starting next January, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.
Taiwan began issuing passports embedded with integrated circuit chips, commonly known as e-passports, on Dec. 29 last year, becoming the 60th country in the world to issue IC passports for anti-forgery purposes.
“We had designated the first year of the e-passport issuance as a promotion period and maintained the service charge at the original NT$1,200 for each passport, but over the long run, the price will have to be raised because the cost of an e-passport is much higher,” said Lo Yu-chung (羅由中), director-general of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Lo said the ministry had developed a draft package of new regulations for passport service fees, which has been approved by the Executive Yuan and referred to the legislature.
If the package passes the legislature, Lo said, the service fee for a standard 10-year Republic of China (ROC) IC passport will be raised to NT$1,600 from Jan.1 next year, while the NT$1,200 fee will be maintained for passports valid for shorter periods, such as the three-year passports for males reaching the age for compulsory military service and five-year passports for children.
Lo said the lingering global economic downturn and the worldwide outbreak of the A(H1N1) flu virus have affected people’s interest in overseas travel. Therefore, only 390,000 IC passports were issued in the first half of this year, far fewer than the target, he said.
“We had originally hoped to issue at least 1.2 million e-passports this year,” he said.
With the IC passport service fee set to increase in the coming year, Lo said the number of applications for new passports is expected to increase in the second half of this year.
Lo added that the 1.5 million people who applied in 2000 for the first batch of 10-year passports in the old format are expected to apply for new e-passports before the end of this year as their passports will expire soon.
Lo said no glitches involving immigration processing of ROC e-passports had been reported at domestic or foreign airports over the past six months.
Nevertheless, he said, his bureau had rejected many IC passport applications because the photos presented by applicants failed to conform to the specifications.
“Applicants should refrain from presenting excessively retouched photos or wearing broad-framed eyeglasses in the photos for passport applications,” Lo said.
Applicants should also read the photograph specifications carefully before submitting their applications, he said.