The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Amb. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., has disclosed that the Liberian government has opened six Liberian Passport Application Centers outside Liberia.
He made the disclosure on Thursday, January 19, 2023 at the Ministry of Information press briefing.
The new centers are situated in Chicago, Los Angeles, Pretoria in South Africa, Nairobi in Kenya, Melbourne in Australia, and New Delhi in India are the additional Passport Application Centers outside Liberia.
Minister Kemayah who appeared along with members of the Senior Management Team and other Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the developments at the Ministry as regards reform initiatives being undertaken are to ensure efficiency and effectiveness at various levels.
He stressed: “One of the key reform measures is in connection with providing efficient and expeditious services to Liberians in the diaspora wanting to acquire passports.”
According to Amb. Kemayah, they at the Ministry reached a decision to expand consular-related services, including the issuance of passports to Liberians in other parts of the world who have been appealing for interventions in acquiring passports.
He added: “As you are fully aware, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has embarked on several reforms, some of which include the opening of additional Passport Application Centers (PACs) in places where the need exists.”
Kemayah further said: “The decision to accelerate the opening of passport application centers around the world is the vision of President George Weah to ensure accessible and affordable comprehensive services; including, but not limited to passport and other consular-related services to all Liberians; irrespective of geographic location, political, social, ethnic, religious and economic background.”
The Minister added that many Liberian citizens who need to legalize their residency requirements in their host countries are in possession of outdated or expired passports.
The Dean of the Cabinet said in the absence of passport application centers, it has been difficult and almost impossible to secure their national identity documents to be able to regularize their statuses in their host countries.
He stressed: “The recent law that grants dual citizenship to Liberians has seen a rise in requests for Liberian passports for various personal reasons from all places where Liberians are located.”
Minister Kemayah added: “Cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the Passport Application Centers to Liberians to benefit from the PACs and the Government of Liberia. For instance, US$60.00, including coverage for DHL/Courier Service versus US$100.00 without coverage for DHL/Courier Service, which the Government has to cover.”
Minister Kemayah further explained that they at the Ministry have considered months ago to engage the Passport Contractor, Buck Press on how to go about ensuring access and affordability to services that will allow Liberians in the diaspora to acquire passports.
“The Ministry, through the passport Contractor, Buck press, agreed to engage the services of the VFS Global, an outsourcing and technology services specialist company that works with several governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, currently operating in 145 Countries; including the United States and in European and other African Countries. The company manages the administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa, passport and consular services for its clients,” he said.
VFS Global has its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland and Dubai, UAE and is widely recognized by over 140 governments around the world. It is a company that has been contracted and subcontracted by many European governments to handle visa and passport services on behalf of those governments. The company he says was vetted by our security agencies.
“This company, VFS Global, in its arrangement, will use the licensed software of the passport contractor, Buck Press, to capture only biometrics of passport applicants, which will be transferred directly to the passport office in Monrovia for verification, vetting and personalization of passports. Should applications have problems; the company will arrange zoom services for the Ministry to directly engage the applicants on the supporting documents received.”
He added: “Once passports are completed, VFS Global is also in an arrangement with DHL to pick up the personalized passports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have them delivered to the relevant Liberia Passport Application Centers at the VFS Global locations where the applications were presented.”
He further stated that the company is charging a service fee of US$60 to be further negotiated downwards per application, which will cover processing to the final delivery of the completed passport booklet.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Liberia.