E-passports are here and we have seen a few people on social media show off the new document which the government said earlier this week will become active internationally next Monday. However, as good as this all is, going to the passport office is not always a pleasant experience. Many Zimbos have an aversion to government buildings because of all the hoops to jump through.
So to remedy this we took a trip to the Passport Office or the New Civil Registry Office and here are all the things you need to do before you set off so you are at least in the clear with the requirements to apply for the e-passports.
Who can apply for an e-passport and who can’t
First off if you are in Harare you have nothing to worry about but if you are in the diaspora, on the other hand, I have some bad news. We were told that there is no facility yet available for those abroad to apply for the new document, so if you are applying for a new travel document it’s the old passport for now. To do this you can go to your local Zimbabwean Embassy and fill out the forms. You’ll then need to send the documents to someone in Zimbabwe to complete the process for you.
Similarly for those in other cities, you will have to come to Harare to get an e-passport or apply for a traditional passport at your local passport office. As said by the government late last year, they are still issuing old passports. And on the point of old passports, you can still use the one you have until it expires. There was quite an uproar, justifiably so, when a deadline of December 2023 was put on old passports but the government backtracked on that.
So… if you have a passport that still has a considerable amount of years on it, the document is still valid until the expiration date. The only caveat is if there are some VISA requirements that demand that you have a passport for the duration of the VISA. We were told at the enquiries desk that this instance is the only one where, if you have some years left, you can apply for an e-passport but that’s if you are in Harare.
Documents and fees
To apply for an e-passport we were told that for adults you will need:
- Your ID and copy
- Original Birth Certificate and a copy
- Old or expiring passport and a copy
You will also need to bring with you US$120.00 (US$20 application fee and US$100 for the passport) for the normal e-passport or you can apply for an emergency e-passport that costs US$220.00. The ordinary passport is issued in 7 working days from the date of application while the emergency e-passport comes out in 3 days. However, to get an emergency document you’ll need to make a booking and the Passport Office is only starting that in March 2022.
ALL PAYMENTS ARE IN UNITED STATES DOLLARS, THERE IS NO ECOCASH OR SWIPE (Come with twenty or ten-dollar denominations to expedite passage if you can)
For children and those under 18 years old, if this is their first application for a travel document, they will need to come with a parent and the following document:
- Parent’s ID and birth certificate and copies of each
- Birth certificate of the child and or ID if they are of age (plus copies)
- Old passport expiring passport with a copy of it (if they already had one)
The e-passport for under 18s lasts 5 years and prices are the same as above.
For those who have unfortunately had their old-style passports stolen and want to apply for an e-passport, you need to bring a police report for the application.
Before proceeding, it is recommended that you go to the reception and make sure everything is in order. They will direct you to CBZ Bank to make the passport application fee. The bank has a branch in the mezzanine hall.
The passport office parking
When we were at the passport office we saw a few cars clamped by City Parking because they had elapsed the time that they had paid for. From what we saw the process is smoother than the old passport system but you have to be mindful of your vehicle if you are coming alone.
The guesstimate we were given by those who were there was to pay for two to three hours which is ZWL$360.00 (3 hours) so that you have enough time to complete the process. The preferable alternative is to commute or get dropped off at the Passport Office in order to avoid dealing with City Parking.
On that note, parking is limited because, for whatever reason, there was no provision put in place for the New Civil Registry Building (Cnr Herbert Chitepo and Leopold Takawira) to accommodate more than a street’s length of parking spaces. So you will have to get there early if you are coming by car and intend to leave it outside.
You can contact the Civil Registry Office with the following numbers, 0242706311 or 0242702295-8