There is this tidbit of information I wanted to share. My family needs to get new passports as their old ones have been extended twice already, and that’s the maximum you can do with a Cambodian passport.
Most Western countries issue passports for 5 or 10 years. Cambodia only issues them for 3 years. Then you can extend them twice, but only for 2 years each. I have been wondering why this is.
Could it be that this is not just to cover the expenses but is a source of revenue for the government, thinking that people who need a passport obviously want to travel? So these people must have money; if they travel often they can afford to pay the extension fees as well.
The cost for the original passport is $130, an extension is $75. The issuance takes about 1 month; if you want to have it processed quickly, say in 1 week, you need to cough up $250.
In comparison a U. S. passport good for 10 years costs $100, a EU passport also good for 10 years costs €59 or roughly $80 - $89.
A Cambodian citizen who needs a passport will consequently pay $380 over 10 years, or almost 4 times as much as their Western counterparts.
It looks like a minor issue but let’s take a look at the numbers. According to the Ministry of Tourism the number of Cambodian tourists for the first quarter of 2009 was 146,000. But in 2008 that same number was well over 600,000. I couldn’t find the exact number per year but I estimate around 500,000 to 600,000 for 2009.
So, let’s say, if 600,000 travel, you are looking at $78 million for the original cost alone. Not too shabby, is it?
And to make things even better overseas Khmer with Cambodian passports, and there are quite a few of those in the meantime, cannot apply for a new passport at their local embassy. They need to apply in person in Phnom Penh.
Whereas administrative costs in the U. S. and Europe are high, they are only a small fraction of what the government takes in. So it must be an additional source of revenue for the government. Whilst one would think that those basic services should only cost so much as to cover expenses, it is, on other words, a tax. But that’s only me thinking.