Greek travel agents soon will no longer be able to issue passports to customers. As of this coming January, Greeks will have to visit one of the 90 new centers being set up around the country where they can obtain or renew their passports, government announced last month. The new offices, as part of a drive to tighten security, will be set up under the auspices of the police.
Travel agents are unconcerned for the most part as the issuance of passports was simply a service offered to good customers. Jorgen Esser of Esser Travel in Glyfada says that if this is the way government wants to handle the matter that’s fine and it causes no problem for his office. He adds that in the very near future he expects passports to be issued with an application through the Internet in any case.
The new reception centers, as they have been named, will be set up in each prefectural police headquarters, although Attica will have more than one. Another 200 will be established at Greek consulates and embassies abroad.
The government decided not to go ahead with plans to allow citizens’ information and service centers (KEP) to issue passports as well. Currently, prefectures and travel agents are able to supply citizens with passports but government said it wants to provide a more fail-safe system that is not open to abuse and possible criminal activity.
The move comes as Greece is set to receive its first batch of up to 500,000 new high-tech biometric passports at the beginning of next year, as part of the government’s drive to fall in line with EU and worldwide anti-terrorism measures.