Posted: Monday, February 10, 2020. 3:51 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: The changes made to the application process for a Belizean passport, which were passed by Parliament in December 2019, took official effect at the beginning of this month.
According to the Department of Nationality and Passports, the changes became effective as of February 3 and are supposed to make applying for a passport much easier on the applicant. One of the major changes is to a 2013 provision that required applicants to have their supporting documents certified by recommenders, one from the public sector and one from the private sector.
“The applicant no longer needs to seek two recommenders, they can only submit their application effective February 3, with one recommender only. The individual does not necessarily need to be a JP (Justice of the Peace) or a teacher, just a Belizean national,” explained Mario Arzu, director of the Department.
He noted that the two recommender process was cumbersome and that there were many instances where recommenders were just signing for signing sake or signing because they had some benefit from it. Arzu also said that the department’s efforts in trying to simplify the process are balanced by a need to safeguard the security of the application process and that the popular use of JP’s and teachers was not an effective way to do that.
Under the new system, the recommender needs to be a Belizean citizen by birth or descent, must be 18-years or older, have a valid Belizean passport, and must have known the applicant for a year. The new system also allows for a family member or friend to be a recommender.
Arzu went on to say that the recommender must fulfill two objectives to certify that the applicant is indeed who they say they are, and to certify that the applicant is a Belizean. He warned that if anyone supports a fraudulent application they are liable to be taken to court, and charged a fine of $50,000 or spend 5-15 years in jail.
In the case of applications for minors, recommenders are now required to know both the child and parent, as opposed to just the parent under the old system.
First-time applicants can now use a copy of their social security card, valid voters id card, marriage certificate or descent nationality certificate as a form of identification for the application.
“For the renewal, it has been proposed and it’s something that we are venturing into, we do so cautiously, that the applicant only present their expired passport along with their application form, that’s it. They don’t need to bring no their identification, no other supporting documents any at all,” Arzu added.
None of the fees charged on passport applications, renewals, replacement and expedited services have been affected by the amendment.
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