March 30, 2023

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Why is the validity period of Moroccan passport limited?

It only allows visa-free access to 75 countries but comes at a high price. Moroccan passports are charged more to citizens than they cost to administer, representing an important financial drain on the state.

In fact, the actual cost of producing a biometric passport may not be more than half of what the government charges an individual. Although there are many gray areas around this price difference, the entire cost of a biometric passport cannot be covered by the main cost. The Ministry of Home Affairs, which manages applications for biometric passports, has not provided any information on the matter. Hence the feeling of perpetual dimness. According to an anonymous source, “the security level of biometric passports, the electronic components integrated into them, in addition to the equipment required by the services responsible for issuing these travel documents, explains the increase in their prices.”

500 dirhams to get a travel document, expensive compared to most African countries

But this is a completely unequal tax considering the validity period of the Moroccan passport, which is only 40 pages, not more than 5 years. Many countries in Africa issue 10-year passports, sometimes with more pages. This is the case in Ghana, which offers a passport valid for 10 years for US$17 or Dh180. Same for Kenya, 10 years with 66 pages. The Kingdom of Eswatini offers a 64-page passport for USD 37 or AED 380.

Meanwhile, in countries like Seychelles, Africa’s No. 1 passport authority for visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to 151 countries, a 10-year passport costs US$50 (500 dirhams). In Mauritius, which has the second most powerful passport on the continent, giving access to 146 countries, this travel document costs just US$18 (190 dirhams). Botswana, the 5th African country on the 2019 UNDP Human Development Index, offers a passport for 25 USD (260 Dirhams).

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Tunisians and South Africans are entitled to a passport that allows them to travel visa-free to 81 and 105 countries respectively, costing less than 300 dirhams and valid for 10 years. For Egyptians, they are entitled to a 7-year passport at 250 dirhams. Meanwhile, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zambia, Tanzania and Lesotho charge less than Dh160 for a 10-year passport.

While some justify the high cost of a Moroccan passport by its speed of delivery, some countries produce express for much less than the 500 dirhams demanded from Moroccan nationals. Uganda, for example, generates a 10-year express passport within 48 hours for the equivalent of 800 dirhams. In Zambia, the Express Passport costs Dh330 and covers 70 countries. Rwanda, for its part, produces its 10-year passport in 4 days for less than 900 dirhams.

Having failed to explain to people the merits of such a high price, it must be said that Morocco could benefit from reconsidering the price of its passports. A passport is not a luxury document. Especially when it is ranked 62nd among the most powerful passports and can access 75 countries without a visa or only with a visa on arrival. European countries are far behind. European citizens will therefore be able to travel around the world very easily. 192 countries have visa-free access, though Japan and Singapore share the top spot. Europe was well represented with Germany, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain (189), followed by the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria and Denmark (188). France was fifth, with 187 countries with visa-free access, along with Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Other European countries rounded out the top 10, including Belgium (186) and Greece (185).

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At the bottom of the ranking, we find Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Citizens of these countries can travel visa-free to 29, 28 and 26 countries respectively.

Mehdi Oussat