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Number of Bulgarian Passport Offices Report New Problems

Date: 25.08.2010

The regional passport offices in the Bulgarian cities of Gabrovo, Razgrad and Ruse inform Wednesday they are experiencing serious problems with the issuing of the new biometric passports.

All three say they are not accepting applications for fast and express services, only for the regular one-month issuing.

The office in the northeastern city of Dobrich reports they only have express and regular services, the ones in Silistra and Stara Zagora will offer fast passport delivery only in cases of extreme emergency.

The other offices in the country are functioning under normal conditions. 153 000 new passports have been issued since July 5.

Exactly one week ago, Deputy Interior Minister, Pavlin Dimitrov, told the Bulgarian National Television that the maker of the ID documents software, the German Siemens, had not delivered the needed forms, and passport offices will once again experience difficulties.

Dimitrov said the company is not fulfilling most of their commitments and communications with Siemens are very difficult.

According to the Deputy Minister, by May 30 Siemens had to deliver 400 000 covers for the new biometric data passports, but only 393 000 were received two and half months later, while nothing has yet arrived from the additional 300 000 covers, ordered by the Interior.

Following its launch on March 29, the new electronic system for issuing personal identity documents, including biometric data passports, was overwhelmed by the number of users online and temporary and sporadic delays in servicing citizens’ needs occurred, with the Interior blaming mostly the German Siemens, which manufactured the software.

In an attempt to eliminate the long lines, the Interior decided to keep passport offices open on Saturdays in the month of July. A new boom is expected for November and December when many Bulgarians will realize their ID documents are expiring.

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