Vincentians will pay more for the e-passport launched on Tuesday, which the government says is the most secure version of the travel document yet.
The e-passport will be valid for 10-years for persons older than 16 years old and for five years for persons younger than 16.
The last edition of the passport, the machine-readable version, was valid for only five years.
Vincentians can continue to apply for passports in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, but all passports will continue to be processed only in Kingstown.
“No embassy or mission anywhere in the world has the authority or the machinery to issue any passport. The only document issued by overseas machine is the temporary travel document,” Gonsalves said, adding that Cabinet and the Immigration Department had taken measures to make issuance of that temporary document more stringent.
An adult, who applies for a passport in Kingstown, will pay EC$150, while a minor will pay EC$80.
Adult applicants in Canada will pay CAD$145, while a minor will pay CAD$75; in the United States, the fees will be US$150 and US$80, respectively, and in the United Kingdom, 75 pounds and 40 pounds, respectively.
In announcing the fees at the launch on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves explained that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the second CARICOM nation to issue e-passports.
He said that the other is St. Kitts and Nevis, where adults pay EC$285 for a 10-year passport, while EC$150 is charged for a minor’s passport, which is valid for five years.
In Antigua and Barbuda, the fees are EC$200 and EC$100, respectively, while in Barbados, they are BDS$150 and BDS$100, respectively.
Gonsalves further said that Trinidadians pay the equivalent of EC$175 for an adult’s passport and EC$125 for a minor’s.
In Dominica a 10-year passport is $150 and a five-year passport EC$75, Gonsalves said, but noted that while the prices are similar to St. Vincent and the Grenadines’, Roseau does not issue e-passport.
“I say these numbers because you are gonna hear it: ‘Ralph is a wicked man; he increase the passport from 80 dollars to 150’, without their telling you it is a 10-year passport and it is an e-passport,” Gonsalves said.
He further said the government will revert to issuing 10-year passports, as had been the case before machine-readable passports were introduced here in 2005.
He said that at an International Civil Aviation Organisation meeting, larger countries had pushed for a change to five-year passports, but continued to issue 10-year passports.
“That is the simple answer to that. We follow the rules and the other persons who were there to help make the rules, because they are big and powerful, they back away and those rules were changed internationally,” Gonsalves said.
The initial sets of e-passport issued will be 32 pages, but there will be a new cycle of passports in which 52-page documents will be introduced to facilitate businesspersons and officials who tend to travel quite frequently, Gonsalves said.
The e-passport system and passport books were purchased for EC$3.4 million, and the Passport Office is now located on the upper floor of the D’s Services Building, which the government bought for EC$3 million.
The Electoral Office is located on the ground floor.
Gonsalves said EC$536,500 was spent to refurbish the Passport office, and EC$26,895.98 spent on furnishings.
A space has been reserved on the ground floor to process applications, including taking photographs of elderly and incapacitated persons.