Thursday, December 26, 2019

Applying for a new Sri Lankan passport

So I had to apply for a passport as my old passport was reaching its end of life (10 years). Since I am in a rush, I decided to go with the one-day option. For most people, paying 15,000 LKR (equivalent to 83 USD at this moment) for the one-day service is a good deal. You can arrive in the Department of Immigration and Emigration early and receive your passport on the same day. This is colloquially known as the passport office in Battaramulla. It is in Subuthi Road, Suhurupaya, to be precise. It opens at 8:30 a.m. But people start arriving early and fill the new passport application form (should be obtained from the officer sitting right next to the entrance in the building/ground floor). I arrived at 8:15 a.m. 

After filling the form, you can go ahead to the second floor and get a token at the entrance. Make sure you have all the necessary documents, arranged in the right order before proceeding. Also make sure you have 15,000 LKR with you. I paid by cash. I did not bother to check whether it is possible to pay by a debit/credit card.

0. The filled application form.

1. The slip given by the photo studio. The studio should be one from the list of the photo studios authorized by the department. You should go to the studio the day before, get the photo, make sure they submit online, and get the slip.

2. Your national ID card and its photocopy.

3. Your previous most-recent passport (if any) and its photocopy.

4. Your original birth certificate and its photocopy. It is recommended that the birth certificate is obtained from the relevant authorities in the recent past, i.e., within past 6 months. You may get it at the nearest divisional secretariat if you are born after 1960. Otherwise, you have to go where you were born! A painful thing if you were born before 1960 and live far from where you were born. The document should be original (typically, Sinhala or Tamil). English translations are not required, and translations are not accepted in place of the original certificate.

5. Academic certificate and letter of appointment. If your academic certificate is original, you may just submit a photocopy. But keep the original with you just in case.

Your old passport and your ID will be returned to you now. The old passport will have received a stamp, "ISSUED A NEW PASSPORT". That means, your old passport will be invalid for further travels. However, keep them with you always when you travel, together with your new passport. The old one may have your valid and previous visas which will be necessary at the point of entry in a foreign country when you travel.

Once you get the token, you will go inside with the token, and submit all the documents. At this point, the officer will staple your documents, ensuring all are in place. Then you proceed to give fingerprints (unless you are <16 or="">65 in age). Finally, go to the D counter, and pay the fees (15000 LKR), by submitting your token. Keep your token safe until this point. Now you will get a new token, to retrieve your new passport.

You will definitely need a Sri Lankan mobile SIM with you, as the decisions are messaged you. You will receive the first SMS when you make the payment. This ensures that you have completed all the steps necessary to obtain the passport. The second SMS indicates that your passport application is accepted. The third and the final SMS indicates that your passport is ready to be collected at the first floor wing C. Go with your new token, which also mentions which precise counter to collect your passport from.

Please note that it may take up to another 40 minutes to get the passport. So you will have to wait in the waiting room. In a way, this is good. You have some time to come back from wherever you are - whether canteen or toilet. If you do not have a mobile phone, probably you can ask them whether you can just wait in the wing C waiting room without having received the SMS. I am not sure whether it is possible, and whether it is worth the risk. Just take a working mobile phone and a Sri Lankan SIM with you to be safe.

There are some shops including a photo studio inside the department itself. Seems it is possible to do the photo there itself. I would not recommend that though, especially if you are in a rush and if you are doing the one-day service. The photocopy costs 10 LKR per page. But I paid 100 LKR and the vendor did not have change. So I asked him for 60 LKR milo drink. He had 20 LKR balance for me, and for the rest of 10 LKR he provided me with 2 candies after confirming that is ok with me.

Once your name is notified in the notice board in the relevant counter at Wing C, go and collect your new passport together with the batch of documents that you submitted.

If you do not drive, you can go to the passport office from Dehiwala using bus 163, which goes directly there. It costs 32 LKR per person. The bus goes with the board "foreign employment" or "විදේශීය ශේවා". Alternatively, just hop on to a metered threewheeler/taxi - just what I did from Moratuwa.

I left home around 7:30, arrived around 8:15 and received my passport at 13:45. So this takes almost a whole day! But I am happy that I managed to get it done in a day. Thanks for the one-day service.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You are welcome to provide your opinions in the comments. Spam comments and comments with random links will be deleted.