The front cover of a Vanuatuan passport
|Type of document||Passport|
|Eligibility requirements||Vanuatuan citizenship|
|Cost||VUV 7000/10000/15000 (21/14/3 processing time)|
Ordinary passports have green covers. According to law, the passport is required to show on its cover the coat of arms of Vanuatu as well as the text "Republic of Vanuatu" and "Passport" in both English and French. Inside, the following bilingual text appears:
- The President of the Republic of Vanuatu requests and requires in the name of the Republic all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer peacefully to pass without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.
- Au nom de la Nation, le President de la Republique de Vanuatu prie instamment toutes les autorites competentes de bien vouloir laisser passer librement le titulaire du present passeport et de lui offrir assistance et protection le cas echeant.
As late as 2010, Vanuatu passports were still hand-written, presenting the possibility of crime and fraud in their use; New Zealand pledged to use part of its NZ$19 million foreign aid to Vanuatu that year to assist the country in moving to a fully electronic system. The new passports were planned to begin production in December 2010; they would include biometric data, and be manufactured by a German company. The first new biometric passports were issued ahead of schedule in September 2010, to acting minister for internal affairs Paul Telukluk, two twin boys, and a migrant labourer planning to work abroad under a Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. Telukluk expressed hopes that the new passports would meet international requirements and expand the list of jurisdictions which allowed visa-free entry for Vanuatu citizens.
With the new biometric passports being available, Henri Tamashiro of the passports office stated in late September 2010 that his office planned to cancel all old diplomatic passports within a month.
Act 3 of 1987 (CAP 108) describes the legal framework for the issuance of ordinary passports. The law requires the Principal Passport Officer to issue passports to all citizens of Vanuatu who apply, as long as he or she is satisfied with the evidence of citizenship that the applicant presents. Under Subsection 12, passports may be confiscated in accordance with emergency regulations declared under Article 69 of the Constitution of Vanuatu, or pursuant to a court order against a person who has been granted bail, remanded in custody or sentenced to a term of imprisonment or a fine. Additionally, Vanuatu does not recognise multiple citizenship; as such, a Vanuatu passport holder who can be shown to have crossed an international border using any other passport may have his Vanuatu passport confiscated.
- The president of Vanuatu
- The prime minister of Vanuatu
- The speaker of the parliament of Vanuatu
- Government ministers of Vanuatu
- Ambassadors of Vanuatu
- High commissioners of Vanuatu
- Personnel of Vanuatu's ministry of foreign affairs (diplomatic and consular staff)
- Leader of a delegation or sole Vanuatu representative at international conference or bilateral or multilateral negotiations
- Diplomatic couriers
According to the same act, the minister of foreign affairs may issue official passports to:
- Members of the parliament of Vanuatu
- The chief justice of Vanuatu
- The attorney general of Vanuatu
- Judges of the supreme court of Vanuatu
- Solicitor-general magistrates of Vanuatu
- The Commissioner of Police Ombudsman
- Chairman of the National Council of Chiefs
- Officers of the Vanuatu government and parliament
Additionally, the spouses of anyone travelling on a diplomatic or official passport may also be granted the same type of passport, provided they are travelling on duty at the expense of the government of Vanuatu. Finally, the minister of foreign affairs has the authority to grant diplomatic or official passports to any person in respect of whom he or she considers exceptional circumstances apply.
Beginning in 2010, the ministry of foreign affairs no longer directly issues diplomatic passports; instead, the ministry makes a recommendation to the immigration department, wherein the passports office is responsible for issuance.
Along with other South Pacific island nations, Vanuatu has been accused of selling its passports for cash, primarily to people from Asia; Marie Noelle-Peterson of the Vanuatu Office of the Ombudsman in particular has repeatedly condemned successive Vanuatu governments for this practise, as well as for their handling of the money earned thereby. For example, in the period 1996–1997, roughly 300 Vanuatu passports are believed to have been sold under "passports-for-cash" programmes. Unlike in Tonga, the Marshall Islands, or Nauru, there is no legal basis for such programmes under Vanuatu law.
In 1994, two Australian real estate developers presented schemes to the Vanuatu government involving the sale of Vanuatu passports to investors. In the first, real estate developer John Avram and his Melbourne-based associates suggested developing an offshore financial centre on Moso Island with its own bank, casino, companies registrar, financial markets, and through it to offer Vanuatu residency and citizenship to business investors. The scheme was approved but never came to fruition. Later in the same year, the Olilian group proposed attracting roughly 3,000 wealthy Asian investors by establishing an offshore financial centre and free trade zone with commercial, hotel, medical, and residential facilities at Luganville on the island of Espiritu Santo and offering Vanuatu passports to investors. However, the promoters were charged with fraud the following year, and the scheme failed.
In March 1997, Richard Jae-yong Jung, a South Korean national with an earlier criminal conviction for sale of military goods as well as outstanding charges of securities counterfeiting in his home country, approached then-Prime Minister Serge Vohor, Finance Minister Willie Jimmy, and later Foreign Minister Vital Soksok to propose a "passports-for-cash" scheme whereby his company Resort Las Vegas would build a 350-room, US$100 million hotel, and grant investors in the hotel Vanuatu permanent residency and passports, for a suggested price of 700,000 vatu each. Jong was granted honorary citizenship of Vanuatu on April 29, and received an ordinary Vanuatu passport on May 5. In September that year, he was appointed Vanuatu Trade Commissioner to South Korea, and also received an official passport. The Vanuatu Office of the Ombudsman found that Soksok and Vohor had "acted in a grossly incompetent and naive manner" and suggested they resign, and also proposed a number of changes to the passport issuance system.
In 2007, Vanuatu minister of foreign affairs George Wells announced that his ministry would cancel forty previously issued diplomatic passports out of a total of 248 outstanding, in an effort to impose tighter controls on their future use. However, there continued to be concern that officials were illegally selling Vanuatu passports. A further forty diplomatic passports were cancelled in 2009 by minister Joe Natuman, following reports that European countries had expressed concern over their misuse. Prime minister Edward Natapei even commented in a Radio New Zealand interview that he had been delayed by customs officials in various countries while they checked that his country existed, that he was really its prime minister, and that his diplomatic passport was valid. In November 2010, Alex Chung, Vanuatu's former honorary consul to Singapore, was arrested for illegal possession of a diplomatic passport. The Passport Act of 2009 further tightened the requirements for diplomatic passports, and granted sole authority for their issuance to a newly formed Passport Services body. Nevertheless, in late 2010, a local newspaper reported that the number of foreigners holding Vanuatu diplomatic passports was still higher than the number of Vanuatu citizens holding the same.
In late 2009, a scandal arose over the issuance of a Vanuatu passport to Amarendra Nath Ghosh. Ghosh was Vanuatu's erstwhile honorary consul in Thailand. In addition to the diplomatic passport to which his position entitled him, Ghosh had also managed to obtain an ordinary Vanuatu passport, a privilege legally restricted to Vanuatu citizens. Ghosh had never applied for naturalisation as a Vanuatu citizen, but had honorary citizenship in connection with his position. In early January 2010, Citizenship Commission head Joemelson Joseph wrote to Immigration Department principal passport officer Henri Tamashiro to advise him that Ghosh had not forfeited his Vanuatu passport, implying that the passport should be renewed; Joseph's handling of the matter led to condemnation from the prime minister. Ghosh claimed to be trapped in India due to his lack of a travel document, and in late January 2010 threatened to sue the Vanuatu government. However, the Citizenship Commission held an emergency meeting at which the affirmed that Ghosh was not a Vanuatu citizen and thus not entitled to renewal of his passport. Joseph was absent from the meeting.
Vanuatu provides citizenship for 320,000 US dollars per person which is under the Capital Investment Immigration Plan. Such citizens do not have a right to own land, vote or run for public office.
Capital Investment Immigration Plan
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- Vanuatu citizenship sales continue
- Vanuatu minister says new dual citizenship law creates distinct categories