MOFA calls on na­tion­als not to mis­use emer­gency pass­port re­newal ser­vice

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY JOSEPH YEH

The Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs (MOFA) yesterday called on na­tion­als not to mis­use an emer­gency pass­port re­newal ser­vice at the For­eign Min­istry’s air­port branch of­fice un­less it is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary.

Dur­ing a reg­u­lar news con­fer­ence, deputy MOFA spokesman An­drew Lee ( ) said there are emer­gency pass­port re­newal and ap­pli­ca­tion ser­vices avail­able at the min­istry’s Bureau of Con­sular Af­fairs (BOCA) of­fice at the Tai­wan Taoyuan In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Lee, how­ever, urged trav­el­ers to use pass­ports with at least six months va­lid­ity left and not ap­ply for the emer­gency ser­vice at the air­port of­fice un­less it is gen­uinely nec­es­sary.

Lee ex­plained that the main task of the of­fice is an­swer­ing emer­gency calls made by trav­el­ers over­seas or their fam­ily mem­bers in Tai­wan and of­fer­ing emer­gency ser­vices to na­tion­als in need

Another ma­jor task for the of­fice is to ap­prove land­ing visas for for­eign na­tion­als.

How­ever, there are ris­ing num­bers of cases where peo­ple are mak­ing use of the air­port emer­gency pass­port re­newal ser­vice, he noted.

Nearly 200 trav­el­ers made used of the ser­vice dur­ing a 10-day pe­riod over the Lu­nar New Year hol­i­day this Fe­bru­ary, a peak sea­son for Tai­wanese trav­el­ing over­seas.

The num­ber has steadily in­creased in com­par­i­son with pre­vi­ous years.

In 2013, the of­fice re­ceived a to­tal of only 19 sim­i­lar emer­gency ap­pli­ca­tions dur­ing the five-day Lu­nar New Year break.

Now, an av­er­age of 200 emer­gency ap­pli­ca­tions are made at the of­fice ev­ery month, he added.

With lim­ited man­power, of­fer­ing such a last-minute ser­vice has caused a huge bur­den for BOCA’s air­port of­fice staff, he said.

With the up­com­ing sum­mer va­ca­tion, Lee called on the public to check the va­lid­ity of their pass­ports and file for nec­es­sary re­newals at BOCA head­quar­ters in Taipei or BOCA’s branch of­fices na­tion­wide rather than at the air­port.

The spe­cial ser­vice at the air­port was not well known un­til lo­cal media ex­posed in Au­gust 2013 that Vice Pres­i­dent Wu Den-yih’s (

) grand­son had made use of the ser­vice.

Mean­while, the min­istry yesterday also called on na­tion­als who want to travel to the U.S. un­der a visa waiver pro­gram to register ba­sic in­for­ma­tion online at an “Elec­tronic Sys­tem for Travel Au­tho­riza­tion” (ESTA) web­site for au­tho­riza­tion first.

The min­istry also noted that only Tai­wanese na­tion­als who hold newly is­sued bio­met­ric e-pass­ports with chips that store the holder’s per­sonal in­for­ma­tion will be able to en­joy the priv­i­lege.

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