Muscat: Pakistani nationals will now only have to renew their passports every 10 years instead of every five years, a change that will benefit both citizens and Pakistani embassies.
The change was introduced November 1 this year, Nawabzada Aminullah Khan Raisani, the ambassador of Pakistan told the Times of Oman. Raisani was a strong proponent of the change, which he suggested to Pakistan's interior minister, Dr Rehman A. Malik, who visited Oman recently.
"It's easier for the people because for 10 years it will be easy for them to move around. It will save their time and money also. It lessens the burdens on the embassies also, saving our time," Raisani said.
Currently there are always long queues outside the Embassy of Pakistan, which is located in Madinat Sultan Qaboos, as people rush to renew their passports, but the change will ease the crowds, the ambassador said.
The 10-year passports will be issued with 36, 52 or 100 pages and the fees remain the same. New passports will take 15 days to be issued. In urgent cases, passports can be issued in five working days, said Raisani.
The 100-page passports were introduced with the 10-year change, and will be beneficial for Pakistanis in jobs that require a lot of travel, such as truck drivers in the GCC, explained K. K. Ahsan Wagan, Deputy Head of Mission at the embassy.
The 10-year passports will also be computer-readable, a change now necessary to conform to international civil aviation requirements. The electronic passports are more secure and widely accepted.
The Pakistani government has asked all of its passport-holders to have their passports changed, Raisani said.
"We started issuing computerised passport in Oman last year. We are changing all the old passports. We have processed about 50,000 passports till now," said ambassador Raisani.
Raisani noted that many countries, especially those in the GCC, no longer accept manually written passports, and he urged Pakistani nationals living in Oman to have their passports changed as soon as possible.
"The drivers who are travelling through GCC countries, and the workers who are moving within GCC countries would need computer-readable passports, otherwise they are not allowed to enter," he explained.
Pakistan joins several other countries that provide their citizens with passports that are valid for 10 years, including the USA, Australia, European Union member states and India.