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#318908 - 01/16/09 03:22 PM Belize Switching to CARICOM Passports
Marty Offline
If you have applied for a Belize passport or you are waiting to be issued one, well, the travel document you are waiting to receive will be different from the original Belize passport. That is because as of next month the Immigration and Nationality Department will be receiving the first batch of 100,000 new passports: and they will be the Belize’s version of the CARICOM passports.

According to the Caribbean Community Secretariat, the CARICOM passports follow an agreement by Heads of Government of member states to introduce the documents in order to facilitate CARICOM nationals to travel freely within the region. In 2005, Suriname was the first member state to issue the CARICOM passport. Since then 8 other member states - including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Guyana and Barbados - have gotten on board. And this month Jamaica’s version of the CARICOM passport will be launched. Today 7NEWS spoke with the Director of Immigration Gareth Murillo who says that the CARICOM Passport launched in February will eventually replace the country’s original passport.
Gareth Murillo,
“We are expecting delivery sometime before the middle of February.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
How will it look?

Gareth Murillo,
“The passport will look very different from the current passport. As part of the CARICOM specifications the cover will now be blue for the ordinary passport. It will bear the CARICOM logo, but still have the Belize coat of arms and the words ‘Belize Passport.’ On the interior for the design we have taken a very nationalistic approach and you will see on the pages the national symbols of Belize along with certain other national elements like the barrier reef.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
Any new security features?

Gareth Murillo,
“Of course. We will mention all the security features and expose the total design of it when we have an official launch of it.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
So that means any Belizean coming in today to apply for a passport, the passport that they will be getting will be a Belize CARICOM passport?

Gareth Murillo,
“Yes, the passport will be a Belize CARICOM passport, yes. As soon as the shipment arrives, we will immediately commence processing the applications we have already received and continue taking applications.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
When should Belizeans who are now present holders of a Belize passport should start apply for this new passport?

Gareth Murillo,
“The current passport will not be recalled or phased out in any way. It will continue to be valid until its date of expiry. So given our current expiry of 5 years, then those passports should still be in circulation say around 2013 to 2014. There will be a modest increase in price, but I must also add to that there will also be an increase in the size of the book. Our current book is 32 pages, the new book will be 48 pages and we will be going back to having a validity of 10 rather than 5 years.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
Should Belizeans be concerned about probably encountering any problems when they travel abroad?

Gareth Murillo,
“Given my experience with other regional passports, I know for instance the Europeans have a common passport, some of the MECOSUR countries of South America have a regional passport, and some of the countries in Central America have a Central American passport. There is no need to be alarmed over any adverse treatment by carrying a regional passport. The advantages would normally only be felt within the CARICOM region. As you may be aware, CARICOM is impressing on a need for hassle free travel for its citizens among the various territories and so presentation of a CARICOM passport will guarantee you certain things like an automatic 6 months stay once you enter another territory.”

Jacqueline Godwin,
Should Belizeans have any concerns about any loss of nationalism by using this passport?

Gareth Murillo,
“No, certainly not. As I mentioned earlier the CARICOM passport is just a symbol of regional unity among the CARICOM countries. It in no way affects national sovereignty and that was not the intent of having the CARICOM passport. I am sure that all the other territories could express that they don’t feel any loss of national sovereignty.”

CARICOM’s ultimate goal is for all CARICOM nationals to travel freely within the community without the need for passports. Belize Director of Immigration Gareth Murrillo says you do not have to wait for your present Belize passport to expire before you apply for the Belize CARICOM passport.

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#325660 - 02/28/09 01:22 AM Re: Belize Switching to CARICOM Passports [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Belize gets new CARICOM passport
By Albert Ciego - Staff Reporter for The Reporter

The Immigration Department announced this week that the new stock of passports - the first CARICOM passport - have arrived.

Senior Immigration Officer Horace Guzman told the Reporter that the new passport will replace the old Belize passport.

The new passports, he said, should be available during the first week of March.

The only additional feature to the passport, Guzman says, is that it will carry a logo with the word CARICOM printed on the front.

Belizeans who have applied for new passports will be issued with the new CARICOM passport.

Applications for new passports were suspended, to make way for the new travel document, which is Belizean in every respect except for a CARICOM logo in front.

Guzman said the department is overwhelmed with applications that need to be processed, but new applications will be accepted during the second week of March.

The CARICOM passport will allow holders to travel without a visa to any CARICOM country.

Guzman said that Belizeans travelling to other countries aside from CARICOM countries, should not see any change in requirements.

Asked if there will be an additional fee for the new CARICOM passports, Guzman said that there is nothing official so far coming from central government.

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