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CARICOM Passport introduced in Belize E-mail
Expatriate Blog
Tuesday, 17 March 2009 00:00
A few years of methodical planning and correspondence among countries in the Caribbean Community have yielded a regional ticket for travel within its member-states. Following the twentieth intercessional meeting of CARICOM Heads of State held in Belize last week the official travel document known as the CARICOM Passport was introduced to Belizeans this morning in Belmopan. Before an audience of foreign dignitaries and officials from the Immigration and Nationality Department Minister of National Security Carlos Perdomo was one of three recipients to be in possession of the new passport. Perdomo was also the guest speaker during the unveiling ceremony held at the George Price Center for Peace & Development.

Carlos Perdomo; Minister of National Security

"At the seventh special session of the conference of Heads of Government at Chaguaramas in Trinidad in October 1999 it was agreed to explore the issuance of a common passport for CARICOM citizens. Then five years later at the tenth special meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government again in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2004 where the specifications for the format of a common CARICOM Passport were adopted. The Belize CARICOM Passport is therefore a very important symbol of regionalism and visible proof of a common regional identity but it remains a fully national document and has no impact on our sovereignty."

The unique identity of the Belize (CARICOM) passport is the result of the pairing up of the Immigration and Nationality Department and its software developer 3M of Ottawa, Canada. Director of Immigration, Gareth Murillo further explains.

Gareth Murillo; Director of Immigration

"As you heard the Minister make mention in his remarks it was an idea that goes back as far as 199 which is some ten years ago and it was only finalized in 2004. Surinam was the first country to issue in 2005 and Belize is now the last in 2009. It was a lengthy, very thought out process by the heads of government of CARICOM."

For Belizeans this means of access allows for easy traveling within the community. Gareth Murillo; Director of Immigration

"For Belizeans travelling to other CARICOM states it means an automatic definite stay of six months on entry. It is also intended as a means to promote hassle free travel."

Applicants and holders of current passports in need of renewal are advised that there is a lengthy waiting period and the process will only be expedited based on urgency.

Gareth Murillo; Director of Immigration

"At this moment in time given our current backlog, we have been working without passports since November or December. So we have some three or four months of backlog. If we work fulltime, if we work overtime I would say we would clear that backlog within the next six to eight weeks. I would say to applicants who are applying now not to expect to have a passport in hand for a month or so."

Other recipients of the Belize (CARICOM) passport were CEO in the Ministry of National Security Lloyd Gillette and Commandant of the Belize National Coast Guard Cedric Borland.

Source: LoveFM