Yam Kumar Poudel 

The foreign ministry’s passport division will bring in a stock of 50,000 passport booklets from Germany in October.

With the shortage of ordinary passports, the passport division has been providing travel document to the applicants since August 20.

A total of 2,854 travel documents were issued as of September 19.

According to Tshewang Dorji T, Chief of Protocol of Passport Division, the manufacturing company in Germany has agreed to supply the stock by October. “The booklets should be enough for the next three years.”

The passport division will provide the ordinary passport in exchange, in place of travel document in case there is an issue in the country of travel.

“However, the applicant must apply again for an exchange stating the reasons,” Tshewang Dorji T said.

Over 19,000 passports were issued in the past five months and about 2,854 travel documents were provided in place of ordinary passports within 20 working days.

This will continue till the fresh copies of passports reach Bhutan.

Tshewang Dorji T said that the passport division has cleared all the backlogs.

The passport division will be replaced by an ordinary passport for the citizens of Bhutan with valid identity cards.

However, the division is yet to decide whether or not the citizens need to make extra payment for an exchange.

Ugyen Dema, a recent graduate, applied for a passport to pursue her higher education in Australia. “I will exchange the travel document with an ordinary passport because passport can be used for ten years without having to renew.”

According to her, the passport division, should not make the citizens pay again if an individuals wish to exchange. “The reasons may vary but as long as the reason is genuine, the division must allow free exchange without having to pay again.”

The cost of one booklet is Nu 700, which includes cost of production and transportation.

In Bhutan, an ordinary passport or a travel document costs Nu 1,000 which includes Nu 300 as administrative charge.

Jigme Tenzin, 16, is a Class 12 graduate who is planning to leave for Thailand for further studies, said: “There are no cases of restrictions as of now, and we hope the government will solve the issue of passport shortage once the stock arrives.”

However, many say that the citizens must be willing to pay for exchange.

Jampel Dorji, a recent graduate, waiting for passports to arrive, said that if the passport division imposes minimal payment to exchange the travel document with an ordinary passport, it is reasonable.