The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it has inspected and accepted 100,000 of 550,000 revised copies of the next-generation biometric passport, which is expected to be put back into circulation early next month at the latest.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs accepted the 100,000 copies on Tuesday and is scheduled to inspect a second batch of 120,000 on Tuesday next week, Passport Administration Division Director Ben Wang (王北平) told a morning news conference in Taipei.
“With 220,000 copies of the next-generation passport in hand, the bureau will decide when to relaunch after factoring in the stock of the first-generation passport to ensure a seamless transition,” Wang said, adding that the relaunch could be scheduled for the end of this month or early next month.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
The ministry recalled the next-generation passport only days after its introduction on Dec. 25 last year after it was found that an inner page illustration mistakenly depicted Washington Dulles International Airport instead of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport due to a designer’s mistake.
To minimize the cost of correcting the mistake, the ministry decided to cover the problematic illustration with a sticker rather than reprint all 550,000 copies already produced, reducing the cost from an estimated NT$220 million to NT$16.5 million (US$7.51 million to US$563,101).
The remedial sticker is made of the same material as visa stickers and features five travel reminders on top of an illustration of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s Terminal 1, Bureau Deputy Director-General Christine Tsai (蔡幼文) said.
The illustration is to replace the earlier, faulty image in future passport copies, which are expected to become available in May after the issuance of the 550,000 sticker-embellished copies is complete, she said.
The bureau is to shoulder the cost for 220,000 sticker-remedied copies, while the Central Engraving and Printing Plant — which designed and manufactured the passport — would be responsible for the remaining 330,000 copies, Tsai said.
Regarding the recall of the 296 botched passports already issued, she said the bureau has recovered 65 and has reached the holders of 200 of the 231 remaining copies.
“We have been unable to contact the rest of the passport holders, but we will keep trying. If continued efforts still fail, we will resort to a written notice,” Tsai said.
The bureau also released a list of government officials included in the second wave of disciplinary measures over the passport mishap, including Tsai. The punishments range from a written warning to two reprimands.
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