Growing Syrian passport demands bring in more than $500M

Syria gains more than $500 million from passport fees this year

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Oct 28, 2015

The Syrian Regime has decided to raise passport fees obtained in foreign countries. Through it has so far earned 500 million dollars which it has used to consolidate foreign reserves, according to a report by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan on Monday.  

The decision to increase the cost of passports comes as the demand for passports grows as an enormous number of Syrians want to flee the civil war in their country to find a life in Europe and elsewhere.

At the beginning of this year Syrian institutions made the issuance and renewal of passports easier but increased their cost.

According to an Al-Watan newspaper report in June, the demand for passports had reached 5,000 passport requests a day from citizens inside and outside of the country. This is five times more than the rate of requests in 2014.

Despite being charged twice as much for the process, demands are still very high. A passport renewal for each citizen costs $ 200 and a passport renewal request from a citizen who is abroad will cost $ 400. Inside the country, the fee for a new passport was around $ 17 in the past.

The government facilitated the procedure in June to utilise an important source of foreign revenue. On Monday, Al-Watan said passport fees have been bringing in millions of dollars and consequently bolstering Syria's dwindling foreign reserves.

Al-Watan newspaper reported, "The revenue [from issuing passports] this year reached $520 million overseas."

"Passports issued inside the country have netted the government $8 million this year so far," the newspaper added.

Over 820,000 passports have been issued from within and outside the country this year so far, with around 3000 passports being issued each day.

The Syrian pound has lost value since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, dropping from 50 pounds to the dollar to 300 pounds this year, with foreign reserves falling in parallel.

According to a report in the UK's Daily Mail newspaper last month obtaining a fake Syrian passport costs only $2000. Syria's emigration department has told Al-Watan that obtaining a fake passport now costs between $5,000 and $6,000, showing a rise in costs.

The Syrian Civil War has displaced nearly half of the country's population and more than 4 million citizens have become refugees abroad.

A large portion of them have taken shelter in neighboring nations, however, lately a huge number of Syrians have joined an influx of transients and displaced people looking for refuge in Europe.

Many European countries are struggling to cope with an influx of refugees and are wary of them trying to access their countries with fake passports and documents.



TRTWorld and agencies