Passport panic strikes HCMC

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Authorities have denied rumors of an impending hike in the fee collected for issuing passports.

In the recent days, the rumors have prompted an inordinate number of applicants in Ho Chi Minh City.

Le Xuan Vien, vice director of the HCMC Immigration Department, said the agency has no plans to increase the fee currently set at VND200,000 (US$9.6) per applicant.

Many applicants told Thanh Nien Weekly that they had heard rumors that passport application fees would increase as much as tenfold.

Due to the rumors, applications for new passports have nearly tripled - going from a daily average of 450 to 1,200. The crush of applicants has lead to long processing delays.

Vien said that the central government has instructed the Ministry of Public Security to map out a plan to issue electronic passports. The first electronic edition is expected to be issued by 2012.

He also said that paper passports will remain valid even if the authorities issue electronic passport.

He said the electronic passport is a move to improve immigration management.

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