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Passports to be valid longer

Applicants gather outside the often-busy passport office in Phnom Penh
Applicants gather outside the often-busy passport office in Phnom Penh. The government has announced it will introduce passports that are valid for 10 years and relocate its office to Meanchey district. Heng Chivoan

Passports to be valid longer

Passports issued to Cambodians will soon be valid for 10 years instead of three, officials at the Ministry of Interior said yesterday.

General Mao Chandara, head of the ministry’s General Directorate of Identification, said that by July, the department will begin to issue long-awaited 10-year passports.

“We are in the process of [finalising the scheme], and it will be ready in the next month or two,” he said. “It will meet international standards.”

Currently, Cambodians can only apply for a three-year passport with the option of extending it for two years, twice.

The Ministry of Interior issues ordinary passports, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs controls the issuance of official and diplomatic passports.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said this will encourage tourism in the region and save people time.

“When we integrated into the Asean community, people will need to have passports,” he said. “IDs will be used within the home countries and passports will still be used for overseas.”

The Asean Economic Community is an economic group due to be created in late 2015 to promote the free flow of goods, trade and labour.

But Kim Eng raised concerns over the price of the passports – the ministry has made no indication that the $135 fee will be lowered – and the time it takes the government to issue them. Cambodia issues the priciest passports in the region, he said.

The central passport office will also be moved from its current location on Mao Tse Toung Boulevard in Chamkarmon district to Noroth commune, Meanchey district, in an attempt to ease the flow of traffic in the city centre.

“The new location is a bigger space,” said passport official Lep Toulors. “People will still easily be able to find the new place.”

Last month, Cambodia opened passport offices along its border with Thailand to cut down on illegal migration. In December 2012, Thailand threatened to expel about 165,000 Cambodian workers lacking proper documents.

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