Last chance alert: Massive crowds seek passports before cost jumps!


With the rush by people to apply for passports to beat the fee increase kicking in on January 1, added to the normal Christmas rush, the Civil Registry Department has extended the working hours of all its e-passport offices across the country.

The new application fee was announced in the 2024 national budget proposals by Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Mthuli Ncube last week and that in turn saw a lot more people wanting to apply earlier than they planned.

In a statement, the Civil Registry Department said they were extending working hours for all its offices across the country’s 10 provinces.

“The Civil Registry Department wishes to advise its valuable clients that it has extended its working hours in the passport section with immediate effect,” said the Department.

“The passport offices will be open Monday to Friday from 0700 hours to 1900 hours during weekdays and from 0800 hours to 1500 hours on Saturdays. This is in response to an increase in the number of clients visiting our passport offices.

“The festive season is the busiest period for the department. With industry and schools closed, and returning citizens from the diaspora taking advantage of their visit to have their documents processed, the department witnesses an influx of clients visiting its passport offices.”

The department said the recent announcement by the Government in relation to the proposed increase of passport fees with effect from January 1, 2024 has also contributed to clients rushing to apply for passports before the deadline.

“In this regard, the department is extending its operating hours to facilitate efficient e-passport services in response to the high demand,” said the department.

“Members of the public are therefore, advised to take note of the passport offices countrywide among them Harare Passport Registry, Bulawayo Provincial Registry, Chinhoyi Provincial Registry, Gwanda Provincial Registry, Gweru Provincial Registry, Lupane Provincial Registry, Marondera Provincial Registry and Beitbridge District Registry, Chipinge District Registry, Chitungwiza District Registry, Hwange District Registry, Murehwa District Registry, Mazowe District Office, Mwenezi District Registry and Zvishavane District Registry.”

Clients who intended to apply for e-passports should bring their original birth certificate, national identity document (ID) and marriage certificate (where applicable).

The Civil Registry Department charges US$120 for ordinary passports that are issued after seven working days and emergency or express passport at US$220 which is issued after 48 hours. However on January 1 the passport fees will go up from US$120 to US$200.

The department is committed to improving service delivery in line with Vision 2030 through timely issuance of travel documents.

Registrar General Henry Machiri said in an interview the festive season has always seen a surge in new applications or renewals, with many of the applicants being those from the diaspora and school children.

“The festive season is our busiest in terms of passport applications, most of diaspora citizens who want to apply for documents,” he said.

“Schools have closed and so we are expecting all these people to be coming now since they need to be there physically for biometrics. So the number will increase since most people want to beat the deadline so they do not pay more money.

“In the proposed national Budget the fees for passports will increase in the coming month and there are some people who want to beat the deadline and submit their applications now.

“Just like last year we were working 12 hours a day including Saturdays. This is also something which is going to happen.”

Mr Machiri said most of the people that applied and are applying are not collecting their passports when they are ready, which was a major concern.

“There are passports which are not being collected by the applicants,” he said. “We have made appeals before for people to come and collect their passports which are ready. Some have responded, but we still have a lot of passports that need to be collected.

“Let me take this moment and persuade our applicants that those who applied for passports may come and collect them. Those passports are valid. You can still travel with them for the next 10 years.”

Norbert Hwenengwere was eager to apply for a passport saying that he had been promised a job opportunity abroad by his friend.

“So I am on the line and on number 600 and something, the reason I want a passport is to go outside of the country where a friend of mine has promised me a job opportunity,” he said. “I want to go outside and showcase my talent to the world and in the end help my country grow.”

Otilia Chiwashira said: “I should apply for my children’s passports before the end of year as it will be more expensive. The numbers of people have increased as of yesterday; the numbers swelled because from 1 January passports will be $200 from $120.

“So, I calculated that if I apply today it will be $120 per child and for the three members of my family I will be saving $80 each.”

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