Every other passport office to be closed down

Norwegian passport, Norwegian citizenshipNorwegian passport. Photo: Norway Today media

The Ministry of Justice has decided that half of all national passport offices will be closed down after Norway has received international criticism for failing security.This means that many people will take longer to travel.

Today there are 141 passport offices in Norway.Next summer, the figure will shrink to 77, in line with the decision of the Justice and Emergency Department.

The reason for the drastic cut is safety.

“It’s too easy today to get a true Norwegian passport on a false basis” said Director of Programs, Atle Roll-Matthiesen, of the Police Directorate, according to the police website.

He indicated that there are strict international requirements and expectations for how Norwegian passports will be issued.These are requirements that the Norwegian authorities are unable to accommodate today he said.

Must prevent abuse of system and terror attacks

Norwegian passports have high international status and provide visa-free entry to many countries.This is how the government wants it to remain, so the security must be increased around the passport.

“A false passport can be used for everything from fraud and drug abuse to organised crime and terror,and Norwegian passports are sought after in criminal environments” said Roll-Matthiesen.

They are therefore closing down a number of small passport offices.They do not meet the requirements for physically secured premises or have employees with ID-professional skills.

Longer travel,longer opening hours

The Ministry said that in addition to the importance of safety,they have also taken into account the ease of use and travel time for people who need a new passport.

Today the requirement is that 90% will have a maximum of 45 minutes driving time.That requirement will be gone.

Lastly,parliament, in connection with the revised national budget in May,had the majority deciding to limit driving time to 45 minutes, while the government had proposed 60 minutes.

However,offices are now being reduced to such an extent that it is clear that many will have longer travel times.

The Ministry of Justice admitted this. However,this will be partially compensated by better service,such as timeliness and longer opening hours.Police districts
can also offer drop-in and flexible opening hours where appropriate.

“Evening and weekend openings and good planning tools can be as good as several passport offices” pointed out Roll-Matthiesen.

The rollout of biometrics to the Passport and ID offices started in November 2018 and is scheduled to last until the summer of 2019.

Source: NRK / Norway Today