Bilingual Passports

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Jan 18 16:26:52 UTC 2005

Published on SETimes (

Macedonia Begins Issuing Bilingual Passports

Macedonia's Interior Ministry began taking applications for bilingual
passports last week. On Monday, the process of issuing them officially got
under way.
By Marija Lazarova for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 09/12/04

Macedonia's Interior Ministry has started issuing new bilingual travel
documents. More than 1,000 applications were submitted between 2 December
-- the first day citizens could apply for new documents -- and Monday (6
December), when the issuance process officially began. Out of about 600
applications submitted in Skopje, Tetovo, Gostivar, Kumanovo and Debar,
220 were for bilingual Macedonian-Albanian passports, the ministry said.

"Only Macedonian-Albanian bilingual passports are available so far," said
Interior Ministry State Secretary Sali Ramadani. "We have technical
difficulties with the scripts of other ethnic communities in the country,
and we are working busily on overcoming them so that they can get their
bilingual travel documents."

Information on citizens belonging to the ethnic Macedonian community will
be printed both in Macedonian and in the basic Latin alphabet, Ramadani
said. "For the citizens who speak an official language other than
Macedonian, information will also be printed in the official language and
the script the respective citizens use."

Changes in the bilingual passports are of a technical nature. "The first
page of the passport now has the coat of arms imprinted on it," says
Deputy Minister of Administration Affairs at the Interior Ministry Erol
Salih. "There is a special place left for putting down the current
dwelling place of a person who lives outside the country for more than
three months and has registered his/her stay."

There is one more innovation: children under 14 who were formerly put on
their parents' passports are now getting their own passports. "For
children under 4, the passport is valid for two years, for persons between
4 and 27 it is valid for five years, and the validity of the passports for
those older than 27 is ten years," Salih says.

The issuance of bilingual passports is a part of the Ohrid Framework
Agreement and derives from the constitutional changes and amendments to
the Law on Travel Documents. This is the second document, besides ID
cards, that is being issued in the languages of the members of ethnic
communities. Other personal documents, including driving and traffic
licenses and all record book certificates, will also be bilingual.

The application forms for bilingual passports have been delivered to every
section of the interior ministry in the country, as well as to Macedonia's
diplomatic and consular branch offices around the world.

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