6 Aug 2010

Vanuatu gets new passport system

1:40 pm on 6 August 2010

Vanuatu's Prime Minister says a new electronic passport system will make international travel a lot easier for citizens of his country.

New Zealand aid money will be used to develop the new system, and build a passport office in the capital, Port Vila.

Jane Patterson reports from Port Vila.

"At present Vanuatu passports are handwritten, and the New Zealand government says the new system will make for better security in the region by reducing the potential for crime and fraud. The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Edward Natapei, says it's difficult for him to travel internationally on a diplomatic passport, let alone the average citizen. He says customs officials in other countries often haven't even heard of Vanuatu and he's often held up while they confirm who he is and that he's travelling on a valid passport. The funding for the new passports and building will come out of the existing more than 14 million US dollars of annual aid funding New Zealand provides to Vanuatu."