Macedonia issues bilingual passports

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Feb 24 19:57:35 UTC 2006

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

More than 1,000 passport applications were submitted between 2 December
and 6 December.  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.

[Moderator's note:  this is an old message, but still interesting! HS]

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