Greeks wishing to travel will need to obtain a new passport by the end of 2006, regardless of whether or not their existing one will still be valid. The passports will be available from 99 centers around the country and at 151 consulates around the world. The application process for a five-year passport will cost 51.40 euros – more than double the current rate.
Travelers were able to obtain their passports from police stations as of December 28. The passports are part of a new government system aimed at making the travel document one of the most secure in the world, according to press reports. The new passport will make use of the most up-to-date technologies and could result in the United States accepting Greek visitors without a visa. It will include a digitalized image of the holder and will also have a second photo that will only be visible through a scanning device.
Citizens interested in obtaining a passport can head to one of 98 points across the country. After an initial assessment, the documentation will then be forwarded to a central processing office in Kaisariani, Athens, which is said to be as secure as Fort Knox.
Passports issued before August 2006 will not include a microchip with biometric data, authorities say. Travelers also get to take a dose of culture with them as the passport will include pages sporting images from Greek culture, and show an image of the Acropolis on the inside pages.