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New Passport System Rolling In #553779
11/05/21 04:33 AM
11/05/21 04:33 AM
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Marty Offline OP

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If you have a valid Belize passport - most likely it was made using biometric features developed by 3M technology. But, that company went out of the identity management business in 2017, leaving the Immigration Department grappling for ways to keep the constantly crashing Belize Passport Issuance System going.

Back in May Prime Minister John Briceno said that government would have to spend 20 million dollars to get a state-of-the-art replacement.

Today, the top brass at the Ministry of Immigration concluded the planning and design phase for the roll-out of that new electronic passport system.

Here's what the Minister of State and the CEO responsible for Immigration had to say on the next step for this new system, which should significantly boost the security features of a Belizean passport:

Dr. Gilroy Middleton - CEO, Ministry of Immigration
"The Cabinet approved the E-passport/E-passport systems in February 2021. In April of 2021, Belize signed an agreement with Canadian Bank Note Limited in terms of procuring the system. Since then, we've been working feverishly. We've currently worked on the design process, working with our colleagues from NICH, the Belize Tourism Board, and members from the Ministry of Immigration. So, we're wrapping up the design process, and now, we transition into the actual processing of passports. So, we have the CBN officials here meeting with officials in different capacities, here in the country, and visiting our various offices to see where the system will be utilized. We expect that this entire process will be finished by July 2022, and the first passport will be issued in early 2022, August."

Hon. Ramon Cervantes - Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade & Immigration
"One of the greatest - or the major thing is the issuance of E-passports. It will be able to produce 20,000 E-passports per year. These E-passports have added security features, such as the 10-print fingerprint identification and verification, and also facial recognition, which are very important security features. Also, the system will take the passport system to the districts, where people will be able to have their data captured at the different districts. And also, when it comes to renewals of passports, Belizeans will be able to do it online."

The officials say that the new system should be ready to produce these new e-passports by August of next year.

Channel 7


Electronic Passport System At Midway Point

Today officials from the Ministry of Immigration gathered to mark the midway point in the development of a new e-passport system which will transition Belize towards passports that contain a chip with the holder’s bio-data. Electronic passports are already widely used across the globe and Government is looking forward to our citizens being able to use them at international entry points and possibly obtain visa waivers for the European Union. CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Dr. Gilroy Middleton and Minister of State Ramon Cervantes spoke about the timeline for implementation of the Electronic Passport Issuance and Control System or e-PICS, and what it means for applicants at a brief ceremony today the George Price Centre in Belmopan.

Dr. Gilroy Middleton, CEO Ministry of Immigration

“Cabinet approved the e-passport, e-passport systems in February 2021. In April of 2021, Belize signed an agreement with Caribbean Bank Note Limited in term of procuring the system. Since then, we’ve been working feverishly. We’ve currently worked on the design process, working with our colleagues from NICH from the Belize Tourism Board, and members from the Ministry of Immigration. So we are wrapping up the design process, and now we transition into the actual processing of the passports. So we have the CBN officials here meeting with the officials with different capacities here in the country and visiting the various offices to see where the system will be initialized and we expect this entire process will be finished by July 2022, and first passport will be issued early 2022 in August.”

Ramon Cervantes, Minister of State, Ministry of Immigration

“Their data will be captured at the districts, the printing will be done in Belmopan, but the data and everything will be captured in the districts so the people don’t have to come to Belmopan or go to Belize City. In the case of Orange Walk, people won’t have to go to Belize City, or Corozal, or Belmopan to apply for a passport because their data will be captured at the station in the district. But the printing yes, will be done in Belmopan.”

It is not yet known if the new e-passport system will speed up the application and issuance of Belizean passports which take on average three to five weeks unless an expedite fee is paid.

Channel 5


Re: New Passport System Rolling In [Re: Marty] #553793
11/06/21 04:22 AM
11/06/21 04:22 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Ministry to Implement New ePassports

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Immigration hereby informs of the transition from the design phase of the new ePassports to the process phase of the new Electronic Passport Issuance and Control System (ePICS).

On November 4, 2021, a kick-off meeting was held with the project stakeholders including the Department of Nationality and Passports, Belize Police Department, the Office of the Accountant General, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Immigration, the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and E-governance, the Central Information Technology Office, the Office of the Solicitor General, the International Organization of Migration. Topics at this session included the project management in reference to the scope of the project, deliverables, timelines, communication, and team roles.

Currently, the ministry is hosting a team from the Canadian Bank Note Limited (CBN). For the next two weeks, the CBN and the ministry’s teams will be engaged in technical meetings with the project stakeholders. This engagement includes visits to the offices in Corozal Town, Belize City, and Belmopan, the only three locations where Belizeans can currently apply for passports. When the new ePICS system comes online in August 2022, acceptance of applications will be extended to offices in Punta Gorda Town, Independence Village, Dangriga Town, and Orange Walk Town. Additionally, there will be an online portal for renewals.

The new ePICS system and ePassports will be incredibly secure, and will allow for efficient processing through modern border management systems. It will be a symbol of national pride for Belizeans and will establish a bond of trust between Belize and those countries reading it. Furthermore, it will open Belizeans to travel globally with less restrictions.

The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), the Belize Tourism Board, and the Ministry of Foreign Trade contributed immensely to the design phase of the new ePassports.

CBN has customers in 80 countries and a proven track record in addressing travel document security threats with technological innovations in design, manufacturing, printing, and biometrics technology. Their solutions are constantly evolving to counter new and emerging security threats and they work closely with the International Civil Aviation Organization to ensure that documents exceed international standards.

This initiative is in line with the strategic plans of the Ministry and the Department of Nationality and Passports, the Global Compact on Migration, the Government of Belize’s eGovernance strategy, and Plan Belize’s immigration policy as well as international and regional agreements that advance Belize’s development.

Photos of the Kick off Ceremony for the electronic Passport Issuance and Control System (ePICS)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gobpressoffice/sets/72157720117585417/

Re: New Passport System Rolling In [Re: Marty] #559181
08/31/22 06:21 AM
08/31/22 06:21 AM
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Belize’s Electronic Passport Issuance and Control System (EPICS) is set to be rolled out in October. The system is expected to remove the painstaking process of applying for or renewing a passport at the Immigration Office. According to the Ministry of Immigration, the change will allow them to retire from the current outdated system. Today, the CEO of the Ministry, Dr. Gilroy Middleton, gave an update on the implementation of the electronic passport system.



LoveFM

Re: New Passport System Rolling In [Re: Marty] #559339
09/10/22 05:17 AM
09/10/22 05:17 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,977
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
New Electronic Passport Issuance and Control System to be Launched

In October 2022, the Government of Belize through the Ministry of Immigration will launch a new application process for electronic passports through the Electronic Passport Issuance and Control System (e-PICS).

The new e-PICS system and e-Passports will be more secure and will allow for efficient processing through modern border management systems. The e-passport will include an electronic chip to safeguard the user’s personal information and photograph as well as a verification feature for use at smart gates at international borders. It will be a symbol of national pride for Belizeans and will establish a bond of trust between Belize and those countries processing entries.

To enable the deployment and implementation of the new system, the public is informed that there will be interruptions in services provided by the Nationality and Passports Department effective October 11, 2022.

Operators of the new system will receive training from October 11 to 21, 2022. During this period, only expedited (24 hours) and medical emergency passport applications will be accepted.

A complete suspension of acceptance of passport applications will occur on October 17, 2022, and regular services will resume during the week of October 24, 2022, when Belizeans will be able to apply for the new e-passports.

The Government of Belize apologizes for any inconvenience this disruption in service may cause. For more information, please visit www.immigration.gov.bz.

Re: New Passport System Rolling In [Re: Marty] #559833
10/08/22 06:11 AM
10/08/22 06:11 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
A New Passport System to be Introduced at Immigration Dept.

A new passport system will be introduced in Belize later this month at a cost of roughly twenty million dollars to the Government of Belize. The introduction of an updated procedure is expected to do away with the bottleneck that has plagued the existing, antiquated system. It will also eliminate the small-time hustling that has been taking place in the lines at the Immigration Department. According to Immigration Minister Eamon Courtenay, applications will now be handled online and passports can be picked at the local immigration office in each district.

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Immigration


“Once we put in place the new passport which we are expecting to launch on October twenty-fourth, I expect that those lines will disappear dramatically because you will be able to get your passport in your own district, there will be no need to come to Belmopan or Belize City. So that will disappear, by and large. The process will be an online application, so you are applying online, you get an appointment and you go deal with your passport. So it’s not just a matter of pulling up on a Wednesday or a Thursday. It’s much more organized and structured, so we expect that with modernization that corruption, petty corruption will disappear. And not only the petty corruption but the long lines and the uncomfortable nature, I mean we regret very much that this is how the system has disintegrated and that’s where it had reached. It should never be like that, that’s not the type of service we want to deliver to the Belizean people.”

How Much Will New Belizean Passport Cost?

With a new passport system to be launched in the next two weeks, how much will applicants have to pay for the various service?

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Immigration


“The cost of the passport, again, like the amnesty, it’s still before Cabinet. We have taken a cabinet paper, there’s a debate, you know how these things are, people are living in very difficult times. Is that an appropriate increase? The flipside of it is that we pay twenty million dollars; we have to recover that money. Well, you could recover it over a longer period of time. The long and short of it is we will settle on a price that Cabinet believes is reasonable, having regard to the current circumstances and the need to recover the investment. But on the twenty-fourth we will launch and all these details will be finalized, finalizing the legislation for the new passport and I think it will be a tremendous increase and benefit to the Belizean people. It will be a safe, efficient process, the passport will be fully secure, the biometrics will be embedded in the chip and there will be no more Citizen Kims.”

Channel 5

Re: New Passport System Rolling In [Re: Marty] #559961
10/14/22 04:46 AM
10/14/22 04:46 AM
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
New Passport Fees? Not Yet, At Least

There was widespread outrage across social media today when a new schedule of passport fees was posted on Facebook. It has every appearances fo being official and promised passport fees increased as much as 400% for a regular 10 year passport - up from $50.00 to $200.00.

But, is it official? Well, no, not yet, at least. Minister of Immigration Eamon Courtneay is quoted as saying "Cabinet has not finalised the fees." Other sources tell us Cabinet is still deliberating those fees. But, we know that e-passports being introduced later this month - some changes are inevitable - and an increase in fees is not unlikely. We'll keep you posted.

Channel 7

Re: New Passport System Rolling In [Re: Marty] #559963
10/14/22 04:48 AM
10/14/22 04:48 AM
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Westline Says Oil Spill Contained

And in other news, yesterday we told you about the oil spill into Coffin Creek which leads to the Mopan River in Benque Viejo Town. The Department of the Environment had issued a press release pointing out that it originated from a site managed by Westline Bus Company, and that the company did not report it to them.

But according to the proprietor of Westline, Sergio Chuc, they weren't trying to hide anything, it just so happened that a concerned resident reported it before they had the chance to, since they launched straight into trying to contain the spill.

And Chuc further explained that it seems the valve on the storage tank containing the oil - which was already old and corroded - was damaged. He emphasized that the spill was not deliberate and mentioned that they would be taking measures to ensure this does not happen again.

We spoke to him via Zoom today and he explained more:

Sergio Chuc, Proprietor, Westline Bus Company
"The engine, every 5,000 or so miles we have to change the oil so we keep a storage tank of approximately 1,000 gallons. On this particular occasion, there was anywhere between 100-150 gallons of burnt oil in the storage tank. Over the weekend with the flooding and the bad weather, there was nobody at the garage and on Tuesday afternoon when the mechanic appeared, went to see the site and see what was up, he realize that the valve on the tank was broken and the oil had seeped out and unto the drain. That went down to the creek that leads to the river. Early in the morning, we got out crew/workers to start cleaning up and at the same time the Ministry of the Environment showed up because somebody had reported it which they are within their rights to report for the wellbeing of the community and the crew from the environment greatly assisted with the cleaning up. At this stage basically I think 90% or so of the spill has been cleaned up. The fact is we don't really know how much oil was thrown into the ground and unto the highway, it could have been anywhere between 100-150 gallons. Nobody was at the garage, and as soon as we found out about it, well my mechanic he started to put his workers of his to clean up but by the morning when they started, that is when the Ministry of the Environment was already there so I guess they beat us to the punch on that so it's not nothing that we are hiding or trying to hide, we are fully cognizant that accidents do happen. It is not a major oil spill nothing was contaminated; it did not reach the river. The soil around the tank is going to be treated at a proper treating facility. It is not a lot of soil, it should be about 1 truck load of materials so it's nothing to be really concerned about, but from the company's side and from the Ministry of the Environment, I think they will ensure that we put the proper mechanisms in place so that this does not occur again. From our side, we are ready to carry out their advice, right now we are starting on a containment area of which the tank will be placed so that something like this does not occur any other time."

We also asked Chuc if he felt he was being targeted - perhaps for his political affiliation - since yesterday's release from DOE, which singled Westline out, was unusually quick, especially since the department is not known for rapid public relations responses:

Sergio Chuc, Proprietor, Westline Bus Company
"I was really shocked when I saw the release from the Ministry of the Environment because I was trying to call the officer in charge Mr. Edgar Eck from 4pm to 5pm and they put us through several times but never got connected. I had already received the stamp order from the Ministry of the Environment in the afternoon and so we knew what to do. I have been in the fuel industry for many years, and I know that this has happened with gasoline spills in different stations all around the country. We know how to handle it, we know how to take care of it but there is never a release put out so suddenly when a minor spill like what occurred here was put out. So, indeed I was shocked that it was done, I don't know if it was because of the municipality that had posted it on their Facebook page and that kind of brought some pressure on the Ministry of the Environment but they are within their right to do that and the public should know what is happening. It is their concern, I think we are an environmentally conscious community especially here in the Western part of the country. We have a lot of conservation areas and so there are people that hold this dear to their heart and possibly that is one of the reasons why they pushed it that fast. I am hoping that its nothing malicious, I know that Channel 7 has a way of looking into things from different angles, but I am hoping that they are just doing their job."

Chuc also added that he does expect that they will have to pay a small fine, and admitted that they do have to be more careful with their oil storage.

Channel 7


Re: New Passport System Rolling In [Re: Marty] #560154
10/25/22 04:30 AM
10/25/22 04:30 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,977
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Marty  Offline OP
In keeping with the Government’s commitment to improve and strengthen the structures and technology within the Immigration and Nationality Departments, a new ePICS and ePassport system was launched on Monday, October 24th, 2022. In his address, Hon. Eamon Courtenay highlighted that national pride is the theme of the new passport, which was designed by a joint team from the ministries of Tourism and Diaspora Relations and Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, and NICH. The e-Passport was produced by Canadian Bank Note Company Limited.


Re: New Passport System Rolling In [Re: Marty] #560157
10/25/22 04:42 AM
10/25/22 04:42 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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The New Belizean Passport

Belize's fancy and modern new passport was launched this morning in Belmopan. It's called the Electronic Passport Issuance and Control System or "EPICS" - and it will change the way you move through the world, and move through the line in Belmopan. Here's the story from the launch:

Governor General Froyla Tzalam received the first e-passport today. It is re-designed with the latest technology and security features.

The passports are produced by Canadian Bank Note Company and she spoke about some of the main features:

Fuencisla Leal Santiago, Canadian Bank Note Company
"The first one is the new business process for the handling of applications which will accelerate the e-passport issuance in a paperless environment. The second is the introduction of an electronic chip in the passport which will carry the passport holder digital image and the government of Belize's digital signature communicating the authenticity of the traveller and the document to foreign border officials when a citizen of Belize presents their travel documentation at a foreign border."

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Immigration
"There are some 26 security features embedded throughout the new e-passport."

Elements of the design were presented to the Prime Minister. Courtenay says it had a cross section of inputs:

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Immigration
"With national pride as its theme our new passport was designed by a team of officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, the National Institute of Culture and History and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration."

But, most folks don't care how it looks, they just want to know that they can get it without waiting in line for hours:

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Immigration
"We introduce this new EPICS confidence that we will attain an elevated level of security and virtually eliminate corruption and fraud when issues e-passports. Belize it or not, last month there were only 3 locations in Belize that were capable of accepting passport applications. Today, this number has increase to 7. The EPICS consists of one central issuing site in Belmopan and 7 data capture sites; Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town, Belize City, San Pedro Town, Belmopan, Dangriga and Punta Gorda Town. The demand by Belizeans for passports has increase significantly. In 2020, 13,830 passports were issued. In 2021, 23,521 were issued. Year to date 37,857 passports have been printed. From 23,000 - 37,000. To address this dramatic increase in demand and the expected surge in applications for the new passport, we will have online appointments to manage applications."

"Our objective is to end the long lines and hours of waiting at the immigration offices. In short we expect that EPICS and the e-passports will provide speed and security to Belizeans."

Security, and a passport that can open more doors globally:

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Immigration
"The Belize passport currently ranks 56 of 199 passports globally on the Henley Passport Index. Belizeans enjoy visa free access to 103 countries. This is not enough. We will sustain and level up our efforts to improve our position on the index by aggressively negotiating reciprocal visa free agreements affording Belizeans visa free entry into more countries. High on our list is Canada and the Schengen states."

GOB Holds Off On Passport Price Increase

So how much more are you going to pay for what's being advertised as "stunning and innovative" design? A recent Facebook post suggested increases in fees of as much as 400% - but the Minister says, for now at least, the price for a passport remains the same as it was:

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"The fees remain the same there is no change at this time."

Cherisse Halsall:
"Ok, because there was a rumoured change that..."

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"Yes, it went to Cabinet with increased fees but we had a long. The decision about it and ultimately we decided that now is not the best time to make those changes so the fees will continue at this time."

Reporter:
"Is it expected that will increase though?"

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"Yes, I suspect it will increase at some point but certainly not this year."

You can apply on line now to get your new e-passport.

Channel 7


Re: New Passport System Rolling In [Re: Marty] #560179
10/26/22 04:22 AM
10/26/22 04:22 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,977
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
BELIZE IMMIGRATION LINK FOR NEW E-PASSPORT INSTRUCTIONS AND APPLICATION FORM
https://immigration.gov.bz/passport/passport-forms/

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