Home Affairs Minister Virginia Albert-Poyotte told reporters on Tuesday, one day after Saint Lucia officially launched its new e-passport, that there’s no timeline for phasing out the old travel documents.
She spoke as Saint Lucians converged on the Immigration Department in Castries to obtain travel documents.
‘All we know is within five years we would have rolled out all persons who should have new e-passports,” the Babonneau MP disclosed.
In this regard, the Minister explained that the authorities expect people to renew their passports when their travel documents expire.
According to Albert-Poyotte, people who received their passports last week have to wait for the next five years to renew.
As a result, she told reporters there’s no need to rush to get e-passports now.
However, she observed that the new travel document has additional security measures that are in the best interest of people travelling to places like the United States, Britain, and the Caribbean.
Albert-Poyotte disclosed that those countries may stipulate that they would not accept the old passport.
“So if they put pressure on us then our people will be forced to renew their passports even before they expire,” the Minister noted.
But she said passport renewal was not mandatory.
The new e-passport costs XCD 250 for five years.
Albert-Poyotte described the price as being on par with what obtains in the other Islands.
“There is nothing exorbitant about the price of the passport here. What happened is the passports cost $80. People have been paying $80 for passports, not knowing that the government has been subsidising that passport for a while,” the Minister told reporters.
She observed that the country is facing difficult times and the government is already subsidising many other things.
“We are not even going to raise the money to pay the cost of the passport. Government still has to subsidise it to a point and there are persons who applied for the passport – some people have been waiting for the e-passport. So these persons since they had already contributed, government is willing to give it to them at the price they paid,” the Minister told reporters.