Vanuatu halts passport delivery amid coronavirus outbreak

In response to the coronavirus, Vanuatu’s Immigration and Passport Services has announced it is banning its officers from traveling to all Asian countries to deliver passports. Passports will only be delivered to Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and Fiji.

“The move by Vanuatu’s Immigration Department to place a blanket ban on travel by Passport Officers to Asian countries North of Australia although somewhat draconian, is nevertheless understandable in the light of WHO declaring a global health emergency,” said James Elcocke-Harris, Chief Executive of the Vanuatu Investment Migration Bureau. “Vanuatu’s primary concern is the safety of its government officers who crisscross the world on an almost weekly basis, hand-carrying Vanuatu passports for personal delivery to newly admitted citizens under the two primary donation programs.”

Since Vanuatu’s CIP requires a physical delivery and attendance at an Oath Swearing Ceremony for new citizens, the recent change has the agency looking into finding acceptable alternatives. So far, the Vanuatu Immigration Services (VIS) has decided against video conference delivery.

“VIS management has looked into the option of video conference delivery but we realize that the option possess high risk to the integrity of our passport issuing system, which we have been protecting to enhance the value of the Vanuatu passport book,” said Jeffrey Markson, director of VIS.

To contain the outbreak, many airlines have also suspended flights to and from China until March.

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