The Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security admits negligence in applying for national documents is a major factor for the recent price hikes but noted that it has also recorded a high number of uncollected documents, which are sourced at a high cost.
“As of today, the ministry has a total number of 6 247 uncollected passports, 4 793 uncollected citizenship certificates, and uncollected IDs 69 967. We have also recorded an alarmingly high numbers of applications for duplicate birth certificates and IDs. During the year 2020, a total number of 21 957 duplicate birth certificates were applied for while a total number of 37 792 IDs duplicates were also applied for from January 2020 to date. These documents are procured and printed at a huge cost,” read a statement from home affairs executive director (ED), Etienne Maritz.
Maritz further noted that not all home affairs fees were doubled. “Fees for visas and permits went up with just about N$100 or N$200. You may have noted that there is no longer a handling fee of N$80 being charged when applications are submitted. This was done in an effort to avoid applicants moving between one service counter to payment counter when submitting an application. For those whose applications will be successful eventually, the handling fee has been worked into the approval fee,” he explained.
The approval of new home affairs and immigration fees increment went through various approval processes before it was gazette last week.
“We, therefore, assure the public that much thought went into the decision making process. Note must be taken that there have been increases in the procurement of virgin documents used by the ministry – mostly due to inflation over the years, Maritz explained.
The ED noted that for the fees that appear to have been doubled, various reasons exist. This includes that birth, marriage and death certificates are now electronic certificates with enhanced security features and are no longer manually written; passports are now electronic and not just machine readable and the number of pages in a passport booklet has increased from 32 to 47 and the validity period increased from 5 to 10 years.
“With the price for a passport being N$400, one is basically paying N$40 per year (for the ten years) – this necessitated the doubling of passport fees. We also caution that a passport is intended for the purpose of travelling; it is not an identity document. Therefore, passports must only be applied for to enable travelling,” Maritz stated.
Meanwhile, additional cost factors include that visas and permits are now a security sticker and no longer are a stamp, and these stickers procured at a higher price, compared to the ink stamps.
In response to questions from a local newspaper, Maritz said it is perceived that there is negligence in the handling of national documents, noting as an example that some attach more value to their IDs than their birth certificates.
“At any point when a service provider requires the birth certificate, the applicant applies for a duplicate because the original is lost or misplaced. We hope that with the increased fees, we will all be taking better care of our national documents. The public must also be aware that lost national documents may result in identity theft; this is detrimental for the holder of such national documents. Additionally current IDs, for both nationals and permanent residents, is a plain card with information printed on. The Regulations to the Identification Act, 1996, have been amended for the ID card to soon contain a Machine-Readable Zone (MRZ) and a Quick Response Code (QRC). This will enable identify verification on the Electronic National Population Registration System by service providers,” Maritz concluded.