Zimbabwe’s new passport prices officially come into effect


HARARE – Zimbabwe’s government has gazetted the proposed passport fees into law, and they take effect from 3 January, 2023. The new passport prices come into effect following the national budget proposal by finance minister Mthuli Ncube last year to hike them as part of efforts to increase the state’s revenue coffers.

Zimbabwe effects new passport prices January 2024
More than a travel document ... For many, a passport in Zimbabwe is the pathway to the proverbial greener pastures 

In Statutory Instrument 1 of 2024 published on Wednesday, ordinary passports now cost USD$150, and emergency passports now go for USD$250. Ordinary passports are issued out after seven working days while emergency passports take 48 hours.

The new law also stipulates that an additional fee of USD$20 shall be charged for every electronically readable passport application to obtain a quick response (QR) code.

Before the new law, ordinary passports cost $120. Originally, Mthuli Ncube in his budget proposal had set $200 as the price for ordinary passports, which sparked an outcry that compelled him to reduce it to $150. Emergency passports were pegged at $220, and Mthuli had initially set them at $300 in his budget proposal, before bringing them down to the newly gazetted $250.

When the new proposals to hike passport fees were announced, Zimbabwean citizens went into a rush last month to obtain passports so that they could obtain them before the new hikes took effect.

The proposals forced people to apply for passports earlier than they had planned, a situation which saw the Civil Registry Department extending its working hours to cope with the large numbers of people who wanted to apply for passports.

Although the festive season is typically the busiest period for the Department, it however conceded that the huge increase in the number of people applying for passports in December 2023 was caused by the government’s announcement that the fees would be hiked as soon as the new year started.

However, Registrar General Henry Machiri expressed concern last month that most of the people that applied and are applying are not collecting their passports when they are ready, which was a major concern.

“There are passports which are not being collected by the applicants,” he said. “We have made appeals before for people to come and collect their passports which are ready. Some have responded, but we still have a lot of passports that need to be collected.

 “Let me take this moment and persuade our applicants that those who applied for passports may come and collect them. Those passports are valid. You can still travel with them for the next 10 years.”

For many Zimbabweans, the passport has ceased being a mere travel document. Crippled with a debilitating socioeconomic crisis amid an ominous atmosphere of political uncertainty and diminished prospects of earning a sustainable livelihood, the passport now represents the avenue to greener pastures and better standards of living for Zimbabweans.

Several million Zimbabweans are estimated to have departed the southern African country over the past two decades when its economy began crumbling.

Many people, including professionals such as schoolteachers, are increasingly opting for short nursing courses and seeking passports to leave for the United Kingdom to take up health care work. This is despite the fact that anti-migrant rhetoric continues to gather momentum in the global north countries.

Such sentiment has also taken an ugly, vivid form in South Africa, where xenophobic sentiments reign supreme unabated. Still, for many others, migrating down south remains the only viable option to escape the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.

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