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Changes To The British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC) Passport Process

Friday, May 27, 2016

Minister Gordon-Pamplin Ministerial Statement: 

A year ago, in May 2015, the former Minister of Home Affairs advised the general public of changes to the processing of British overseas

territories citizen (BOTC) passports. Such changes would see passport personalization, printing and dispatch of BOTC passports undertaken by Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO). The transfer of these functions was a mandate of the UK Government; a mandate that was being imposed upon Bermuda and the following British Overseas Territories (BOTs): Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, St. Helena, and Turks & Caicos Islands.

The requirement to look at the printing of BOTC passports came as a result of the UK Government, via the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), introducing a new UK passport design with improved security measures for British Citizens (only) on October 5, 2010.  At June 5, 2015, the Bermuda Passport Office introduced:

  • New application forms which were made available on Immigration’s website; and
  • New guidelines for the issuance of emergency passports which are being strictly adhered to (the guidelines were standardize across all BOTs).

The Department of Immigration with responsibility for the Bermuda Passport Office would like to inform its citizens about the changes to the BOTC passport process.

From June 29, 2016, passports for British overseas territories citizens will take up to four weeks to process from the date that an application is submitted to the Bermuda Passport Office.

Although the process for applying for and receiving a BOTC passport will not change, the passport will be printed by HMPO in the United Kingdom.

Although the BOTC passport will be printed in the UK, the new style will continue to show ‘Government of Bermuda’ on the front cover. Also any time left on an existing passport will be added to the new passport, up to a maximum of nine months.

By printing these passports in the UK, British overseas territories citizens will receive the latest biometric version of the passport that is available to British nationals, which includes the highest level of internationally recognised security standards.

Additionally, the Bermuda Passport Office will retain a stock of passports which can be printed on compassionate grounds, or for urgent Government business. Notwithstanding this, passport customers are reminded that they should not book travel without first ensuring that their passport is valid. Passport customers are also encouraged to submit their application well in advance of any planned travel dates. Likewise, BOTC passport holders who reside outside of Bermuda for any number of reasons, must ensure that their passports are valid so that they are not prevented from traveling at freewill.

Passport customers who hold any other British passport must check their name, place of birth and date of birth within that passport before applying for a BOTC passport. If their details have changed, for example because of a recent marriage causing their name to change, they will also need to apply for a new BOTC passport.

In order for the Bermuda Passport Office to adequately prepare for the changes in the aforementioned printing processes, first-time passport customers must apply for a BOTC passport on or before June 23, 2016. The passports will be printed in Bermuda, with the current processing time of eight working days. Only passport customers whose passports have a validity of less than six months can apply for a new BOTC passport on or before June 23, 2016. During this transition period, passport customers whose passports have a validity of six months or more, will not be permitted to submit an application for a new BOTC passport. All applications for BOTC passports submitted to the Department of Immigration after June 23, 2016, will be printed in the UK and will see a processing time of approximately four weeks.

The BOTC passport application form can be found on the Government website (www.gov.bm); including guidelines for completing the form, Q&A, and a listing of the following passport fees:

Adult (including persons over the age of 65 years): $160.00

Child (under the age of 16 years): $80.00

Restricted validity (compassionate or urgent Government business): $127.00

Express Service (within 1-7 days): $166.00

In summary, the key messages in this Ministerial Statement are:

  • From June 29, 2016, Bermuda British overseas territories citizens will receive the latest biometric version of the passport that is available to British nationals which includes the highest level of internationally recognised security standards.
     
  • The new BOTC passport will take up to four weeks from the time that the application is submitted to the Bermuda Passport Office.
     
  • The Bermuda Passport Office will still have some older passports which they will print but only on compassionate grounds or urgent Government business. These passports will have restricted validity.
     
  • Should passport customers require a passport on compassionate grounds or urgent Government business, they will be required to apply for a full validity passport at the same time they apply for the restricted validity passport. The full validity passport will be printed in the UK and the restricted validity passport will be printed by the Bermuda Passport Office.
     
  • Passport customers are advised to submit their application well in advance of any planned travel dates. Time left on your existing passport, up to 9 months, can be carried over to your new passport.
     
  • Only passport customers whose passports have a validity of less than six months may submit an application for a new BOTC passport up to June 23, 2016; the passport will be printed in Bermuda in 8 working days.
     
  • First-time passport customers may submit an application for a BOTC passport up to June 23, 2016; the passport will be printed in Bermuda in 8 working days.

For information and/or clarity on the changes to the processing of British overseas territories citizen passports, the general public is encouraged to contact the Department of Immigration or visit our website at www.gov.bm.

As an aside to all of the above, all Bermuda travellers are reminded of the requirement to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada. More information is available online via http://www.cic.gc.ca

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