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Ghanaians abroad complain of exorbitant prices of passport forms

By Odiasempa Kwame Katawere

Ghanaians abroad are questioning the basis of the price discrimination in the application for a new passport or renewing a passport.

According to some of these Ghanaians abroad, the various Ghanaian embassies especially in The Hague, Berlin, London and Washington all charge different fees for the passport forms and processing.

Information gathered indicate that the cost of a blank application form in Ghana's Embassy in The Hague (The Netherlands), is €25; cost for processing a new passport is €190 and cost for renewing a passport is €90.

In Berlin, Germany, the cost for a blank application form is €30; processing a new passport costs € 120 and renewing costs €120. The price of an application form at the London Embassy is not stated but the cost of processing a new passport is £110 and renewing also costs £ 110.

An application form at the embassy in Washington D.C is $ 30, the fee for processing a new passport is $ 100 and renewing is $ 100.

The Hague Embassy has explained that the consular fees are approved by Parliament in Accra and each mission abroad has different consular fees; but the Ghanaians abroad are questioning why the apparent price discrimination.

One of the concerned Ghanaians in The Netherlands, Odiasempa Kwame Katawere, argued that if the hardcopy, contents and volume of the passport application form is exactly the same for all Ghanaian embassies, why has parliament approved that the application forms can and should be sold for arbitrary fees around the world?

He contended that Ghanaians abroad would have expected that a standard fee, quoted in a convertible currency for all the embassies would be more appropriate.

Odiasempa Katawere questioned why an applicant would personally download and print a passport application form and still have to pay US$30 for the form.

Apart from the inconsistencies in the amount charged for the forms and processing, the Ghanaians have also raised questions about difficulties they encounter in acquiring the forms and the processes involved.

They claim that unlike some embassies' website where the forms can be filled online and submitted personally, that of the Ghana embassies require that the person goes personally to buy the blank form, go back home, fill it and bring it back again with the necessary requirements which is a very tedious process.

They complain that it is quite costly to bring two guarantors along to sign their part on the form.

Another issue of contention is why some embassies like the Berlin office require applicants to submit two passport photographs while others require four.

Odiasempa Kwame Katawere said it baffled him that in this era of technological advancement, Ghana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs still prints hardcopies of blank passport application forms and sends them to various embassies around the world which in turn leads to the embassies charging exorbitant fees for the forms.

They have therefore advocated that the Ministry uploads all necessary documentation (forms) on their website or ask all the embassies to upload the forms on their websites to be filled to prevent exploitation.