The Minister of Interior’s General Department of Identification (GDI) began trialling a streamlined online passport application service in five locations across the Kingdom on June 17, with plans to add the service to Tbong Khmum and Siem Reap provinces by the end of the year.

Cambodian citizens can scan a QR code or head directly to the website of the Identification Service. Once they have completed the online application, they will be able to make an appointment to visit a passport office at a specific time where they will be interviewed and fingerprinted and can make payment, saving them waiting time, explained the GDI.

Applicants will still need to provide the required documents.

“This practice has the goal of bringing public services closer to the people. This improves the efficiency of service provision and reduces waiting times at the passport office,” said a June 17 notice from the department, released to the public on June 19.

The GDI added that elderly people, or those living with serious illnesses or disabilities, are not required to personally visit the passport office. Their family members or representatives can apply to the GDI on their behalf, provided they have documentation from the individual’s physician which provides details of their condition. Officials from the GDI will visit the individuals at their homes, free of charge, to conduct interviews.

Top Neth, general director of the department, said he expected the trial to be successful and for online applications to become even more widely available.

He cautioned that fingerprints and photography would still need to be done in person.

“This is important in terms of managing data, as it allows us to eliminate the use of forged documents. The process is not 100 per cent online yet, but we have greatly reduced people’s wait times,” he said.

“We hope that in the next two or three months, we will have gained valuable experience and will be  able to implement the online model more widely,” added Neth.

At present, the Kingdom has five passport offices: In Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district and at Aeon Mall 2 in Sen Sok district, as well as in Koh Kong, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces.

The GDI plans to increase these services to Tbong Khmum and Siem Reap provinces, to bring public services closer to the people.

People who are unable to visit the passport offices during the week will be pleased to know that the Aeon 2 location is open seven days a week.

“At the present time, we have five locations. We plan to expand to two more locations in Tbong Khmum and Siem Reap. We are preparing the necessary staff, facilities and equipment. It is possible that these services will have been implemented by the third or fourth quarter of the year,” said Neth.

“The plan is for us to make sure that people from remote areas do not have to travel to Phnom Penh to access public services. This is the overall direction we are moving in,” he added.