The Department of Passport (DOP) is a government agency established on 26th January 2012 (2068/10/12 B.S.) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Nepal. Passport Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) was assigned with the passport and travel document related functions until the establishment of Central Passport Office (CPO) on 25th May 2010 (2067/02/11 B.S). As per the Rules of Business Allocation of the Government of Nepal, MoFA has been assigned with the responsibilities of issuing Passports to the Nepalese citizens and Travel Documents to the legally applicable persons. As this part of the MOFA responsibility increased gradually along with the greater number of service seekers, a separate department was deemed necessary to effectively deliver the services to the public. To address the increasing demand for passport services in view of increasing international interaction and citizens’ movement beyond the national frontiers, a more autonomous and dedicated separate government agency was gradually becoming a real necessity. And the result was the establishment of the Department of Passport which is now operating from Narayanhiti, Kathmandu shouldering greater responsibility and also mobilizing a larger staff.
DOP has adopted the policy of issuing Nepalese MRPS to the citizens as per the standard of ICAO guidelines; satisfying the service seeking customers by pro-actively addressing their needs in terms of quality, functionalities and timing; providing products and services of the highest quality through continuous process improvement, security integration and good working environment; encouraging employees through empowerment and promotion of innovation and expertise; engaging the partners and suppliers in an appropriate manner for quality output and enhance service effectiveness. DOP is dedicated to improve the performance and service delivery continuously.
Department of Passport, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Nepal has been entrusted with the responsibility of issuing and delivering passports to the Nepalese citizens and travel documents to the applicable persons as per the Nepalese Passport Act, Rules, Guidelines, agreed procedure and government-endorsed other directives. Its function is to provide services and accommodate Nepalese citizens’ needs in issuing valid passports and travel documents. As an active member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Nepal has been complying with the ICAO rules and standards in terms of travel documents it issues. Accordingly, as per the ICAO agreement, Nepal stopped issuing full duration hand written passports from April 01, 2010 and thereafter issued temporary handwritten passports for some time until December 26, 2010 since when the DOP has been issuing Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) as per the guidelines of ICAO Machine Readable Travel Document (MRTD Document 9303). To effectively carry on this job, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has awarded the contract to Oberthur Technologies of France, a globally renowned company in the field of smart card technology and associated services, which personalizes the Nepalese Machine Readable Passports to the Department of Passport. For this MOFA and OT signed an agreement on 27 August 2010 to supply and personalize four million passports until 24 November 2015.
The Department of Passport issues three categories of passports to the Nepalese nationals according to their nature: diplomatic, official and ordinary; and travel documents as per the established law. While the validity period of ordinary passports has been fixed for ten years, the validity of the diplomatic and official passports depends on the nature of the office bearers. District Administration Offices (DAO) under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and Nepalese Diplomatic Missions stationed abroad under the MoFA also issue Ordinary Nepalese Passports to the citizens in their respective jurisdictions. In addition to the ordinary passports, the Nepalese missions also issue travel documents and temporary emergency handwritten passports of limited duration in cases of emergency situation.
In order to achieve the passport policy directives and objectives thereby complying with the assigned responsibilities, the DOP and the contractor Oberthur Technologies have jointly implemented a Quality Management System based on ISO 9001: 2008 standards.
Network of Passport Service
As Passport is a very vital and sensitive national document, Nepal has been issuing this document in close coordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs and its field agencies- the District Administration Offices (DAOs). In order to facilitate the service seekers to get the services in their home districts, DOP and MOHA have jointly initiated a coordinated service delivery system. Under this cooperation, applicants seeking passports can apply in person at the Department of Passport at Narayanhiti, Kathmandu under urgent category, and at respective District Administration Offices and Nepalese Missions abroad under ordinary category. The passport applications submitted at DAOs, are further collected from passport application collection centres (a temporary arrangement agreed between the MoFA and MoHA) from where they are taken to DOP for further processing and personalization of the passport. The printed passports are delivered to the applicants following the same procedure as adopted while collecting the applications. The normal processing time for issuing a passport under urgent category at DOP is seven workdays excluding the application day while the processing time for regular passport at DAOs and Nepalese Missions abroad is between six to eight weeks at maximum.
Innovation and Improvement
DOP is working towards implementing a mechanism of collecting online passport application services incorporating the biometric features which, when operational, will minimize the passport processing time, enhance the security features and save travel costs of the applicants. DOP is also mulling over to implementing biometric system deploying mobile units to provide services in issuing passports in rural areas enhancing its services to reach and cover those living in remote areas. As per the ICAO’s standard, countries issuing MRPs are to upgrade their passports to e-passports after 2015. DOP has been working towards meeting that challenge.
DOP as a MOFA’s public face
The Department of Passport, in most cases for ordinary citizens, has become the public face of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and hence DOP carries a part of the public diplomacy. The overall objective, orientation, focus and efforts of the DOP have been directed by the mantra of continuously promoting and improving the production and service quality of the passport delivery and aimed to enhance better service efficiency and satisfaction of the service seekers.