Residents in Laos have complained of long queues while lodging passport applications, as well as widespread corruption involving brokers.
The Consular Department, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), issued a statement last week admitting that the number of applicants has caused a delay in passport issuance.
The office says around 2,000 applicants have been arriving to apply for passports each day.
The Consular Department has appointed more officials to manage the increased demand, however, passport applicants have complained of blatant corruption and interference by illegal middlemen and ‘passport brokers’ claiming to hold special privileges.
A video that quickly went viral on social media last week allegedly captures brokers posing as consular department officials and attempting to prevent other applicants from applying without paying special fees.
However, in a recent media briefing, the Consular Department’s Deputy Director General, Mr. Sisouphanh Manivanh, firmly denied that consular officials have any connection to brokers or agents.
The Consular Department also suggests that there is no need for passport applicants to stand in line in the early morning before sunrise.
Passport applications are accepted Monday to Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 11:30 am, and from 1 pm to 4 pm.
A drastic increase in the number of residents applying for passports in Laos has overwhelmed the passport office, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A notice issued by the Consular Department on 7 July stated that the office would no longer process applications from residents of Oudomxay, Xayyaboury, Xieng Khouang, Khammouane, Savannakhet, or Champasack, except in cases of medical emergencies.
Instead, residents of these provinces would be able to apply for a passport in their home province.