Afghanistan: Department to resume passport issuing process next week

Afghanistan’s passports. File photo. Courtesy: Reuters.

The Taliban announced Thursday that issuing passports will resume from March 8 after a four-month pause in operations, which has created many challenges for Afghan nationals.

According to Taliban officials, online applications with start Thursday, while passport offices at the ministries of interior and commerce have reopened to serve military personnel and investors respectively.

The head of the Taliban’s passport directorate, Hasib Karim, said those who have electronic ID cards will not need to go through the biometric process for a passport.

The Taliban’s deputy head of the passport directorate, Shirshah Quraishi, said the department would increase capacity so as to issue up to 10,000 passports a day.

The distribution of passports had been stopped periodically over the past 18 months, with the latest suspension in October last year. This was due to “technical issues”, Taliban officials said.

But sources said in December that passports can be procured on the black market for a staggering $3,000 apiece. According to a passport department employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Taliban distribute passports to their own members and to so-called passport dealers on a daily basis.

For members of the public, getting a passport remains a big challenge. One woman said she sold her gold bracelets to get one but could not because “the dealers” wanted $3,000.

The Taliban has however rejected reports about the black market passports.

In the past, the department distributed 3,000 to 5,000 passports a day. Each applicant is charged 10,000 AFN (around $110) for a passport that is valid for 10 years.