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More new passport features than meet the eye

More new passport features than meet the eye


The missing “Observations” page is not the only observable difference between the batch of 25,000 Vincentian passports of which the government issued 15,211, and earlier versions.{{more}}

SEARCHLIGHT has found that the earlier passport has the Coat of Arms at the top right hand side of the inside of the front cover.

Further, it has a map of the country with the Grenadines off the east coast of St Vincent, which is geographically incorrect.

The passport without the Observation page has the Grenadines in their correct position and the Coat of Arms at the centre of the top half of the inside of the front cover.

Other differences include the number of “Visa” pages in the two passports and the location of the barcode.

In explaining these differences, Godfred Pompey, permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, told SEARCHLIGHT on Sunday that no two batches of SVG passports are exactly the same.

“The design varies from batch to batch,” he said, explaining that some of the differences are built-in security features, which cannot be discerned with the naked eye.

The permanent secretary said that before each batch of passports is produced, his ministry is required to sign off on the design.

He, however, said the ministry did not agree to not having an “Observations” page.

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves has said that Canadian Bank Note, the company which manufactures SVG’s passport books, produced 25,000 passports without the “Observations” page.

Of those passport books, 13,500 were issued at the passport office in Kingstown, 975 in the United States, 200 in the United Kingdom and 536 in Canada.

On realising that the “Observations” page was missing, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Immigration Department did not stop issuing passports because they would have run out of passports, Pompey said.

He, however, told SEARCHLIGHT that the Government first sought guidance from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

He said ICAO assured the Government that it would be in order for the Immigration Department to continue to issue the passports, until new ones were received from Canadian Bank Note.

The prime minister told parliament on October 11 that ICAO told his Government to use the first “Visa” page of the passport to note observations such as name changes, which are normally placed on the “Observations” page.

On September 6, 7 and 8, the Immigration Department, under the supervision of CBN, destroyed 9,789 of the batch of 25,000 passports, because of the anomaly, the prime minister told Parliament.