All passports issued from tomorrow will be valid for ten years, but there will be no extra charge levied.
Passports were earlier valid only for five years.
Immigration and Emigration Controller P.B. Abeykoon however said passports of children below 10 years would have to be renewed after five years and those below five years would be renewed after two years.
The Controller told journalists yesterday that plans were underway to expedite the issuance of passports through regional offices which would be opened up soon.He said a separate unit would be set up in every Divisional Secretariat to handle passport-related issues and most of the newly recruited graduates would be posted to those units.
At present only Justices of Peace, senior government and armed forces personnel and lawyesr are authorized to attest the signature and photograph of an applicant, but the Immigration Chief said this authority would be soon extended to Grama Seva Niladaris, school principals, post masters, estate superintendents and others too. However he said according to the new rules, applicants would have to get their documents attested from the area of his or her residency and not from outside the area. Mr. Abeykoon said such applications would be rejected.
Besides the new moves, passport forms would also be made available free at post offices and Grama Seva offices.
Mr. Abeykoon said regional offices would be set up in Anuradhapura, Matara and Kandy next month.
He also said tough action would be taken against hundreds of migrants who were overstaying their visas in the country.
He said a Special unit had been appointed to arrest such migrants largely believed to be operating in areas like Matara, Hikkaduwa and Arugambay.