Nigeria: How I Got My Passport 18 Days After Applying Online, 4 Days After Capturing

15 February 2024

To test the ongoing reforms in the Nigeria's immigration system, I opted for a firsthand experience in securing a passport through the revamped process. I embarked on the journey to obtain my international passport independently, propelled by the recent initiatives spearheaded by the Minister of Interior, Mr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, aimed at streamlining the passport acquisition and renewal process.

I decided to apply independently without help from anyone, including my friends that work with the Nigerian Immigration Service. I decided to bring my experience to the fore believing that this might help and give fresh applicants and those going for renewal the insight of what to expect.

I commenced the process by applying online on January 15, 2024 where basic details were supplied including the upload of NIN, birth certificate and passport photograph.

The only thing I consider a challenge during this process was the upload of the right photo that complied with the International Civil Aviation (ICAO) standard. I resulted into using a steel camera after images taken with phones (including an iPhone) got rejected several times.

After the successful registrations, I proceeded to making the payment of N36,400 (processing fee included).

I moved on to the booking of a date for biometric capturing and selection of available centre of choice. I chose Gwagwalada centre even when the immigration Headquarters was closer to where I live. I was of the opinion that the centre at Gwagwalada may not be as busy as the HQ.

Due to my busy schedule, I chose 29th of January, 2024 for capturing even when closer dates like 21st to 26th were available.

I downloaded my appointment booking slip, payment receipt and application details. By 22nd of January, I received a mail requesting that I changed the birth certificate I uploaded during the registration process. The system only accepts either 'declaration of age' or a birth certificate obtained from National Population Commission.

I did as instructed by uploading a declaration of age that I obtained as far back as 2008. The only challenge at this stage was that, amongst the list of items one was told to come along with, is a completed guarantor's form duly signed by a commissioner for oaths, attached with a photocopy of the data page of the guarantor's Nigerian e-passport and one passport-sized photograph of the guarantor.

The form was not available on NIS website for one to download and fulfilling those requests could be herculean. I later called a friend that worked with the NIS for clarification. He was the one that told me the form is not a requirement anymore. I wonder why the service has not yanked that aspect off the list on their website.

I got another mail the next day, 23rd of January confirming that my application had been approved.

THE D-DAY

I was set for Gwagwalada as early as 8:00am even when my appointment was 12:00pm. I got there around 9:30am and was made to pay N500 for a file folder.

I proceeded to another office where my documents were checked and this is where the story got interesting. I was told that the declaration of age that I uploaded was not acceptable anymore so I had to do another one. I attempted to argue as to why it was accepted online and I was being told to get another one. The response I got was that "I can try my luck if I was not ready to heed to their advice."

I quickly dashed to the office where the declaration of age was being done. I paid N1,200 for that.

I thereafter submitted all the documents in the file folder and was made to pay N5,000. THERE WAS NO RECEIPT FOR THIS PAYMENT AND THEY INSISTED I PAID CASH AS ELECTRONIC FORM OF PAYMENT WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I was taken to the capturing room and waited for my turn. That took about 20 minutes. Capturing was done and a slip was given for me to come pick my passport 3 or 4 days after.

I checked back on the 4th day. Lo and behold, my passport was ready. The officer that handed it over persuaded me buy a N1000 pouch for it which I gladly did.

FOOTNOTE

  • I ended up spending N41,100 for the passport
  • All money paid at the Gwagwalada passport office bear no receipt
  • Personnel at the entrance gate and few others I encountered asked if I had anything (money) for them.
  • Since it was my first time as I had no prior experience at the passport office before, feelers said the introduction of online application and other reforms by the minister have brought about improvement and ease of applying and obtaining travelling passport.

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