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Online passport service saves time, money: MOFA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A newly launched service to allow nationals to make online reservations before visiting the Foreign Ministry's Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) to file passport applications is running smoothly and saves a great deal of time and money, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

Speaking during a press conference, Ray Mou (牟華瑋), deputy director-general of BOCA, said the bureau has launched a trial-run of the online service since Dec. 27, 2013, at BOCA's headquarters in Taipei.

Around 2,000 passport applicants have so far taken advantage of the new service, with no major problems reported, Mou noted.

“The trial-run will continue to stay in place for a few months and if everything goes well the bureau will expand the range of the services to BOCA's other offices around the country this July,” he noted.

Previously, one had to visit one of BOCA's offices around the country if one wished to apply for a passport renewal or a new passport.

The process was rather time-consuming and very often one had to stand in a long line without knowing when the application procedure might be finished.

Mou said the latest service that aims at streamlining and speeding up the passport application process allows an applicant to log onto BOCA's website to fill out all necessary information in applying for a passport.

After making an online reservation and choosing the time period during which one wishes to apply in person for the service, the applicant will then visit BOCA's headquarters in Taipei with their ID card and required documents.

At BOCA headquarters, an applicant will then scan his or her ID card at a kiosk machine that is designed to handle passport applications before printing out the required application form.

The applicant can then bring the printed form to a counter at a designated time to apply for his or her passport, he said. 

With the new service, applicants now know the exact time when they have to visit the BOCA office to file their passport applications.

Now it only takes about 10 minutes to finish the passport application process at the BOCA office, he said.

Once the service is expanded in the future, it will be a relief to BOCA's Taipei headquarters, which regularly handles 8,000 passport applicants per day, Mou said.

More than 100 Apply for Emergency Passport Renewal at Airport

Meanwhile, Mou said more than 100 people made use of an emergency passport renewal service at the airport during the past Chinese New Year holiday.

The number is six times that of the previous year, leading to a huge burden on the limited manpower at BOCA's office at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, he said.

He urged Taiwanese travelers to travel with a passport with at least six months left before expiration and not to apply for the emergency service unless it is genuinely necessary.

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