Ministry urged to rethink stiff fee for lost passports

Ministry urged to rethin

Israeli who have lost their passports or had them stolen may save themselves hundreds of shekels when they ask the Interior Ministry for a new one, thanks to a petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. According to new regulations published by the ministry on December 31, 2008, anyone asking for a new passport before the old one has expired must pay NIS 1,000 for the document. Anyone seeking to renew an expired passport or obtain one for the first time is charged between NIS 170 and NIS 250, depending on whether he appears in person at the ministry office or applies by phone or mail. Before the new regulations were introduced, renewing an expired passport or obtaining a first one cost NIS 220 and the charge for replacing one before the original had expired was twice the sum, or NIS 440. In its petition, ACRI charged that "the additional levy is nothing other than a fine. It has no basis in law, violates human rights and its purpose - to punish anyone who lost his passport or had it stolen - is obvious." High Court Justices Miriam Naor, Elyakim Rubinstein and Hanan Meltzer appeared to agree with the petitioners. They advised the ministry to cancel the fee and replace it with a reasonable one that truly reflected the cost of issuing a new passport ahead of the expiry date. The court ordered the ministry to inform it by the end of three weeks of its position in light of Monday's hearing.